With the summer tornado season rapidly approaching, the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security is urging Wyoming residents to make sure they know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, and how to respond to both scenerios.

To illustrate the difference, the agency posted the following graphic on its Facebook page:

Wyoming Office of Hoamleand Security
Wyoming Office of Homeland Security

According to the National Weather Service,  when a tornado warning is issued, people should take action immediately:

"A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified by a forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm."

The agency says a tornado watch, on the other hand, means people should be prepared for a possible tornado:

''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.''

Cheyenne-based meteorologist Don Day Jr. says there are times when Wyoming residents need to be especially aware of possible tornadoes. "We have 2 peaks, late May/June then mid-July to mid-August," he told Townsquare Media of Cheyenne last summer.

Destructive tornadoes can and do happen in Wyoming. Perhaps the best known is the July 16. 1979 tornado that hit Cheyenne, damaging 200 homes, injuring 40 people, and killing one.

Twisters of varying severity are an annual event in the Cowboy State. While many touch down in remote areas and do little damage, it's not unusual for them to strike more populated areas, causing property damage and forcing residents to take action to protect themselves.

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