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Knowing your tornado terms and warnings is just as important as knowing the warning signs of a tornado. The difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning plays a large role in how you prepare for a tornado.

A tornado watch simply means that there are tornado-friendly conditions present that increase the likelihood of tornadoes. Usually, a tornado watch lasts for only a few hours. A tornado watch does not mean that a tornado is looming, but it is a reminder that you should be aware of a potential tornado as you go about your daily activities. By contrast, a tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been seen and located.

It can either mean that the tornado is descending from the clouds, already on the ground or that meteorologists saw circulation in the storm patterns thanks to their

Doppler radar.

In many cities, particularly those in Tornado Alley, sirens ring out once a tornado warning is in effect. If your city does not have tornado sirens, it is absolutely imperative that you take the initiative to stay on top of the latest weather forecasts.

Beyond that, it can be helpful to download weather or tornado warning apps from organizations like the American Red Cross or the Weather Channel.

These apps will help alert you if a tornado warning is in effect. In the event that your town or an app alerts you to a tornado warning, there are several precautionary steps that you ought to take. In the event that a tornado warning is in effect, professionals recommend that you ought to seek the best and closest shelter immediately. Preferably, you will be in your own home at the time of the warning. If so, it is often advisable to quickly turn on your radio or television to get the latest information on the tornado.

Usually, you will learn important information about the scope of the danger as well as the tornado’s current path of movement. Often, you will even learn which neighborhoods should be taking shelter immediately.

Given the importance of receiving news updates, strongly consider purchasing an emergency radio that you can have available in the event of a power outage. It is easy to get cynical about tornadoes, especially if you have gone through many tornado warnings without a serious tornado touching down. That is the wrong attitude to take, however, because the one time that you do not take shelter just might be the time that a tornado causes drastic damage to your area.

Far too many death tolls have accrued due to people ignoring tornado warnings, thinking it will be yet another false alarm. In short, treat every tornado warning seriously, and be ready to go to your emergency shelter if necessary.