Difference between Tornado Warning and Tornado Warning


On Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Louisville confirmed that tornadoes touched down in Kentucky during Tuesday's severe storm, causing damage in the areas it passed through.

Kentucky Tornadoes April 2, 2024: Three tornadoes confirmed in Kentucky. NWS assesses damages.

Here's what we know.

Confirmed tornadoes in Kentucky

On Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service in Louisville confirmed three preliminary EF-1 tornadoes in the state, touching down in Nelson, Anderson and Jessamine counties. Straight-line winds were also confirmed in Fayette, Woodford, Mercer and Spencer counties in Kentucky.

Click the link below for more information on the differences between tornadoes and straight-line winds.

In Kentucky, straight-line winds and tornadoes caused damage. What you should know about both


Kentucky Tornado: A single-track tornado struck Jeffersonville, Prospect

A single-track tornado hit Jeffersonville, IN, before jumping over the Ohio River and hitting Prospect, said NWS-Louisville meteorologist John Gordon.

What does a tornado watch mean?

According to the National Weather Service, the Storm Prediction Center is issuing a tornado watch as a warning in counties where tornadoes could occur. They typically cover a large area across numerous counties and sometimes several states. A tornado watch signals people to be prepared for a possible warning and to review emergency planning.

What does a tornado warning mean?

A tornado warning signals people to take action because a tornado has either been sighted or indicated by weather radar, according to the NWS. They typically cover a smaller area, such as a city or small county, that may be affected by a tornado and is identified by a forecaster or a trained observer watching the storm. During this time, people in the area should move to an indoor building on the lowest floor and avoid windows.

Difference between Tornado Warning and Tornado Warning

A tornado warning is typically less severe than a tornado warning and covers a larger area such as multiple counties and states. It serves as a signal to people to prepare for an emergency. A warning signals that a tornado has been indicated or detected on a weather radar and is affecting a smaller area, such as a city or county. If there is a warning, people should seek shelter and take action.

Is tornado watch or warning worse?

A tornado warning is more severe than a tornado warning and indicates that people are taking action and seeking shelter. A watch signals that a tornado may occur, while a warning signals when a tornado has been indicated.

More: Tornado Watch vs. Tornado Warning The video shows a student being thrown to the ground during a storm. How common are tornadoes in Kentucky?

What does a tornado siren mean?

According to the NWS, an outdoor warning siren sounds when something life-threatening occurs and signals people to stay indoors to obtain additional information from local media, law enforcement, etc. Siren guidelines vary for tornadoes, wind, hail, etc. Jurisdictions vary, but such sirens generally indicate nearby danger.

“Sirens may be activated for tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, sustained winds of 45 miles per hour or greater with 1-inch hail, hazardous materials incidents, or civil emergencies. Sirens will not be activated for guards of any type,” the statement to said.

When do tornado sirens go off?

Generally, tornado sirens are triggered when a situation appears life-threatening and a tornado is seen or indicated on local weather radars. In Louisville, sirens can be activated in winds of 45 miles per hour or more. Sirens in the Louisville area are also tested on the second Tuesday of each month at noon.

What causes a tornado?

According to the NWS, a tornado is caused by many factors, such as warm, moist air near the ground, cooler, dry air above, and a change in wind speed and direction with altitude. “An unstable air mass promotes the development of strong updrafts, while wind shear further increases the strength of the updraft and promotes the rotation that creates tornadoes.”

All thunderstorms have the potential to produce a tornado, but it occurs most commonly in supercell storms. “This very severe, long-lived thunderstorm contains an airborne circulation (mesocyclone) that grows upward and downward toward the ground through the storm. Supercells can produce strong, violent tornadoes or multiple tornadoes over a period of several hours.”

Do tornadoes need flat land?

No. According to the NWS, tornadoes can cross rivers, move up mountains, roar through valleys and damage large metropolitan areas.

How many tornadoes are there in Kentucky per year?

According to the Courier Journal, over 1,300 tornadoes have occurred in Kentucky since 1950. In 2023, 43 were registered.


Mayor Craig Greenberg provides an update on storm damage following a tornado in the Louisville area

Mayor Craig Greenberg gives an overview of the damage following strong winds and storms in the region

Sam Upshaw Jr.

Tornado damage in Kentucky

For more information on tornado damage in the Louisville and Kentucky areas, see the links below.

What is an EF-1 tornado?

According to the National Weather Service, an EF-1 tornado is classified as a weak tornado with three-second wind gusts between 86 and 110 mph, causing moderate damage. The EF scale, used to evaluate wind speeds and damage from a tornado, includes 28 damage indicators such as building type, structures and trees. The scale became operational in 2007 and is a revision of the Fujita scale. For each damage indicator, there are 8 levels of damage, ranging from the beginning of visible damage to the complete destruction of the damage indicator.

What is an EF-2 tornado?

An EF-2 tornado sees three-second wind gusts at speeds of 111 to 135 miles per hour.

What is the difference between an EF-1 and an EF-2 tornado?

Tornadoes vary in wind speed and amount of damage. On the EF scale, an EF-2 tornado is heavier than an EF-1, with winds of 111 to 135 mph.

Were there any tornadoes today?

No. Three tornadoes were confirmed by the NWS during severe storms on Tuesday, April 2, in Kentucky. No further tornadoes occurred on April 3.

April 3, 1974, tornadoes

For more Courier Journal coverage of the April 3, 1974 tornado, see below: