Usually, people clarify the difference between a watch and a warning, like this:
A watch is issued when conditions are favorable for those conditions, whether it’s a severe thunderstorm, flash flood, or a tornado, to form.
A warning is issued when those conditions are actually observed, whether by a trained meteorologist on radar, or a trained spotter on the ground.
However, when it comes to a Particularly Dangerous Situation Tornado Watch, which is very likely to be issued for the area as early as 8:00 Wednesday, those differences do not apply.
On April 27, 2011, the worst tornado day in our lifetimes to date, nearly 350 people were killed in Alabama alone. No doubt some of these people took the National Weather Service’s PDS Tornado Watch to mean prepare for tornados instead of actually taking immediate cover.
What a PDS Tornado Watch actually means is that a tornado will occur in every county that is under such a watch, without exception. The only unknown is when the tornado, and the warning that comes with it, will occur.
For that reason, a PDS Tornado Watch cannot be treated the same way as a standard Tornado Watch. Preparations must be done – and completed – before a PDS Tornado Watch is issued. Once a PDS Tornado Watch is issued, it is too late to begin preparing for tornados.
For Wednesday, all 23 counties in the Augusta-Aiken area – Central Georgia and West Central South Carolina – are under a moderate risk of severe weather.
With that, a PDS Tornado Watch must be treated like a Tornado Warning – no ifs, ands, or buts.
This tip can help you save your life if the computer models are accurate about Wednesday.