Visual Encyclopedia

Tornado warning

A tornado warning (SAME code: TOR) is an alert issued by national weather forecasting agencies to warn the public that severe thunderstorms with tornadoes are imminent or occurring. It can be issued after a tornado, funnel cloud and rotation in the clouds has been spotted by the public, storm chasers, emergency management or law enforcement.

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Recent tornadoes in Oklahoma caused numerous deaths, some in vehicles. Perhaps the warnings about tornadoes did more harm than good in this case. Or, perhaps the warnings weren't specific enough. How do you decide what to tell people and what not to tell them? How does a parent decide whether to drive to safety or hunker down and hope the tornado misses their home? How do you make a decision like that?

Contributed by Sammo Lea

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