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WakeMed Blogs

Severe Weather: Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning

February 13, 2020

In the Triangle, we see our fair share of severe weather, including the occasional tornado watch or warning. But do you know the difference between a tornado watch versus a tornado warning? Below, we offer some helpful tips to keep you and your loved ones safe the next time severe weather hits.

Tornado Watch: Be Prepared!

Translation: Tornadoes are possible in the area.

Tornado watches are issued in areas where conditions are ripe for the development of tornadoes. ornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room.

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. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

Tornado Warning: Take Action!

Translation: A Tornado has been spotted in your area. Danger is imminent.

A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office.

Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.

[source: National Weather Service]


Our Emergency Departments Are Open 24/7

Remember, WakeMed emergency departments are always open – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Not sure if it’s worth a trip to the ER? View these helpful tips on when to visit the emergency department. If you are visiting another one of our facilities, please check our website for the latest closings & delays.