Weather Safety 101


Tornado Watch-Issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes within the next 3-6 hours. You should remain alerts to rapidly changing weather conditions and listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local television, radio or cable television outlets for possible warnings. You should have a safety plan and be ready to implement it if a warning is issued.


Tornado Warning-Issued by the NWS in Morristown when a tornado is detected by Doppler radar or has been sighted. The warning will tell you the location of the tornado, its movement, and the estimated time of arrival for cities and towns in its path. When a Tornado Warning is issued;

  • If you are indoors, get away from windows and move to the lowest level of the house or building, preferably an interior room with four sturdy walls. Avoid windows.
  • If you are in a mobile home, leave it immediately and seek secure shelter.
  • If outside or in an automobile, seek shelter in the closest substantial structure. If none is available, take cover in a low-lying area such as a ditch and cover your head. DO NOT try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. DO NOT seek shelter under a highway overpass.
  • Call 911 and report the tornado, damage, and any injuries when safe to do so.


Severe Thunderstorms

  • Defined as a thunderstorm capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 58 mph or hail one inch in diameter or larger.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch-Issued by the Storm Prediction Center when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms within the next 3 to 6 hours. You should have a safety plan and be prepared to seek shelter if severe weather develops.


Severe Thunderstorm Warning-Issued by the NWS in Morristown when a severe thunderstorm has been detected by Doppler radar or has been reported. The severe thunderstorm warning will tell you the locations of the storm, its movement, and list communities in its path. If you are in the storm’s path, seek shelter immediately.



  • A Flash Flood is a rapid rise of water along a stream or low-lying urban area.

Flood/Flash Food Watch-Normally issued by the NWS  in Morristown when flooding or flash flooding is possible within the watch area. You should be aware of potential flood hazards and ready to evacuate and go to higher ground if a warning is issued or if flooding occurs.


Flood/Flash Flood Warning-Issued by the NWS in Morristown when flooding or flash flooding is occurring or imminent. The warning will tell you the locations affected by the flooding. You should evacuate immediately and go to higher ground. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.


Winter Weather

  • Hazardous winter weather is defined as: (1) freezing rain or drizzle and ice accumulations of .25+ in, (2) 1/2+ of sleet, (3) snow accumulation 4+ in. within 12 hours or 6+ in. within 24 hours.

Winter Storm Watch-Issued by the NWS in Morristown 12 to 36 hours before the possibility of hazardous winter weather. You should remain alert to the onset of winter weather and monitor NOAA Weather Radio or your local media for updates and possible warnings.

  • Prepare for the storm before it arrives by stocking up on water, non-perishable food, warm clothing, blankets, flashlights, etc. Close off rooms, protects drafts in doors and wear layers of loose-fitting clothes.
  • If possible, stay at the home of family member or friend. Shelters may also provide refuge from the storm.
  • Perform vehicle checks to ensure your car is prepared for winter weather driving.


Winter Storm Warning-Issued by the NWS in Morristown when hazardous winter weather is imminent or occurring. The warning will tell you what areas will be impacted, how long locations will be affected, and what the main threats will be.


Winter Weather Advisory-Issued by the NWS in Morristown when winter weather is expected to cause “nuisance” problems, but is not a serious or widespread threat to life and property. This includes snow accumulations of 1-3 in, up to .25 in of ice accumulations, or up to 1/2 in. of sleet accumulations.



Across the U.S., an average of 73 people are killed annually by lightning. In our area, 2-3 deaths and 6 injuries occur each year on average. Most people who are struck by lightning are in an open field or standing under trees.

  • If thunder roars, go indoors. The best way to protect yourself from lightning to is to take cover if you hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Wait until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to leave cover.
  • If you are caught in the open, the safest place is away from tall, isolated objects such as trees and electrical poles. Move indoors as soon as you hear thunder or see lightning.
  • Get out of the water, off the boat, and away from any body of water. If you are caught in a bout, crouch down in the center, away from metal.
  • Avoid the highest objects when no shelter is available, such as hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clothes-lines, sheds, and any electrical object.
  • If on a golf course, move to a safe location immediately. Find the nearest lightning shelter if you cannot make it to the clubhouse.
  • It is safe to give first aid to a lightning victim. They do not carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely.
  • If you feel your skin tingling or your hair standing on end, run indoors immediately or, as a last resort, squat down with your head between your knees.
  • When inside, do not use telephones, electrical appliances, or electronics. Avoid windows and metal objects. Do not take a bath or showers during a thunderstorm.


NOAA Weather Radio

Get one! Every person, household, business, and school should have a weather radio. The latest NWS warnings and forecasts are directly broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Routine programming is always interrupted when watches, warnings, or advisories are issued. Your weather radio will sound an alert when a weather bulletin is issued.


Weather radios are relatively cheap, especially given they can save your life. They are available at Walgreens and other stores and usually cost around $30-$40. Normally, they run off your household power but batteries should be installed to serve as a backup in case the power goes out.


Weather radios are designed to be simple and easy to program. In fact, most radios can be programmed to only announce alerts that affect your county, so that you will not have to worry about alerts that do not affect your area.