National Weather Service issues tornado watch

Updated at 10:30 p.m. to extend the tornado watch

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for the region, including Chester and Delaware counties until midnight on Monday, April 20.

A threat of severe afternoon thunderstorms could generate strong wind gusts and hail along with dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning, forecasters said. Severe thunderstorms are defined as having winds of 58 mph or higher or hail more than one-inch in diameter, officials said.

According to the Chester County Department of Emergency Services, a tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). They are capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Although severe tornadoes are more common in the Plains States, tornadoes have been reported in every state.

Emergency officials say the best way to prepare for a tornado is to pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

Move or secure lawn furniture, trashcans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile. If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Tornado danger signs include dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail; a wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm; a cloud of debris; large hail; a roaring noise; or a visible rotating funnel cloud.


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