National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Residents of the ArkLaMiss are no strangers to severe weather. It's always good to remind ourselves what to do when severe weather strikes as preparedness is key to avoid injuries or death.



What is a severe thunderstorm?

A severe thunderstorm is any storm that contains one or more of the following:


Hail of 1"(quarter size) or larger

Winds of 58 mph (50 kts) or greater




What is the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING?  

WATCH - Conditions are favorable, severe weather is possible during the watch time.

WARNING - Severe weather is occurring or about ready to occur.

Two main kinds: Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Two main kinds: Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm, can also have Flash Flood.
Can be issued for a long period of time (6 hours or longer) Usually issued for an hour or less. There can be numerous warnings issued for a specific location over the course of a severe weather event.
Covers many counties Issued for a smaller area than a watch. Usually a county, portion of a county, multiple counties. Issued based on specific storm threat.
Usually is issued before severe weather occurs. Issued when severe weather is ongoing or imminent.
Issued to give you a heads up that there may be some rapidly changing conditions.  If a warning is issued for your location, take cover. Activate your severe weather plan!



Severe Weather Safety Tips


Tornado Safety

Red Check Take cover in a sturdy building.

Red Check The best place in a house/building is on the lowest floor and in an interior room. Basements, storm shelters, hallways, closets and bathrooms are great locations to go. Basically, any room that is AWAY from windows is good. You want as many walls between you and a tornado as possible. 

Red Check Protect your head from flying debris. Blankets, pillows, helmets, mattresses, cooking pots are all good things to use to protect your head, other than your hands.

Red Check Mobile homes are not safe shelters. Find a neighbor or a friend to stay with in a sturdier structure. For a last resort, take shelter in a ditch.

Red Check Never outrun a tornado in a vehicle. Get out of the car and into a sturdy building. If none is around, lay flat in a ditch.

Red Check Highway overpasses are not safe shelters. Winds speed up as they funnel underneath the overpass creating a danger to those underneath, as well as debris flying around.

Red Check Make sure to have a NOAA Weather Radio with fresh batteries handy. Many times, severe weather can come through during the night or times when we least expect it. NOAA Weather Radio will alert you when a warning has been issued for your county.


 Lightning Safety

Red Check If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Red Check Once inside, do not use appliances, landline telephones or take a shower/bath. If lightning strikes your house, it can enter through telephone or power lines or plumbing. It is safest to wait til the storm has passed.

Red CheckIf stuck outside, never take shelter under a tree. Try to find a building or get into a hard-topped car. Just try to get inside as quickly as possible.


 Flooding Safety

Red Check If encountering flooded roadways, Turn Around, Don't Drown! Find another way to go. Do not cross the flooded road. The risk is not worth your life or the life of your imminent rescuer. 

Red Check  It only takes 1-2 feet of flowing water to wash away any car, and 6 inches of flowing water to wash a grown person off of their feet.

Red Check  As long as water covers the road, conditions underneath the water are unknown. The road could be washed away, a power line could be downed in the water, etc.