What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

When a "tornado watch" is in effect is means not that there is a tornado, but that the weather conditions present have created, or may potentially have the ability to create, a favorable environment for a tornado to form.

A "tornado warning" means that a tornado is actually forming, or has formed and has been seen and reported.  If a tornado warning is issued those is the affected zones are directed to immediately take shelter and take the necessary steps to protect life and property.

Watches and warnings are issued by the Storm Prediction Center based in Norman, Oklahoma.

Meteorologist Jennifer Narramore explains: