A Rare Tornado Watch in Manhattan Today

At 1:05 a.m., the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch for Manhattan as lightning brightened normally dark skies, which are usually illuminated by the city’s lights. The watch was scheduled to last until 7 a.m. The number of lightning strikes in the early hours reached into the dozens.

A Tornado Watch, as defined by the National Weather Service, is posted when weather conditions are such that they could trigger tornadoes. They cover a specific geographic area and also are posted for a specific period. This is in contrast to the other Weather Service designation for tornadoes, a Tornado Warning. A warning means that one or more tornadoes have been captured on local radar.

A watch can cover a very broad area. The Weather Service reports under a watch:

Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

New York State ranks 30th on the list of the states with the most tornadoes.