Tornado warning vs. Tornado watch; what's the difference?

A tornado warning and tornado watch is confusing to people as some people may not know the difference.

So, what is the difference between the two? We break down the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning below:


A tornado watch is when tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

You should be prepared for an actual tornado during a tornado watch. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued, or you suspect a tornado is approaching. 

Acting early helps to save lives. Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur.


A tornado warning is when a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. During a tornado warning, there is imminent danger to life and property.

You should move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building (no mobile homes) and avoid windows. 

Warnings are issued by local weather offices. Warnings typically cover a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by the radar