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Illustrated tornado from the book The Wizard of Oz
© W. R. Wright, Piglet Press Inc. (www.halcyon.com/piglet/)

Tornado Notification

Tornadoes are very dangerous so it's important to know when they may form so you can take shelter. Forecastors at the National Weather Service are always looking for possible storms. Even though nobody knows for certain how tornadoes form, they do know when conditions are most likely for them to form. When the conditions are likely, the Storm Prediction Center issues a tornado watch. These watches usually last from four to six hours.

When a tornado watch is issued, local storm spotter networks activate. If a spotter sees a storm, the local Weather Service office will issue a tornado warning for the local area near the tornado. They can also issue warnings based on radar images. Meteorologists us certain radar echos to help forecast tornadoes.

If there is a warning issued for your area, you may hear about it from different sources. Most cities have tornado sirens to alert people to the danger. Also, using a new network called the Emergency Alert System, people can hear about warnings right away. Unlike the old system, the EAS will only notify you of warnings in your county and it is able to electronically turn on your radio or television when there is an emergency.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA