Tornado watches were issued in areas across Texas and Oklahoma on Thursday afternoon and will expire at 10 p.m. CDT, when peak tornado conditions are expected to subside, per The Dallas Morning News. The watches will be coupled with strong winds and hail, in some areas reaching the size of a DVD disk, per ABC.

The news: Both states are also under severe thunderstorm warnings, with “DVD-sized” hail in Oklahoma, and winds up to 90 mph, per The National Weather Service.

  • The NWS reported that over 2.3 million people are expected to be impacted by these storms.
  • Affected areas include the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the western half of Oklahoma, ending at the state’s northern border.
Severe weather looms over the South: Here’s how to prepare for harsh weather, from heat to tornadoes
Nearly 100,000 people in the South without power due to severe storms, tornadoes

Tornado watch vs. warning: Currently the two states are only under a tornado watch, which means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to form, per The Dallas Daily News.

  • A tornado warning means that a tornado is present in the area, requiring immediate action, the Deseret News reported. In the instance of a tornado warning, take shelter immediately. Some of the safer areas to be in during a tornado include a basement or a room on the lowest floor with no windows. However, no place is completely safe from the dangers of a tornado.
  • When a tornado watch is issued, all residents of that area should watch their local weather, as tornado conditions can change rapidly, per the Deseret News.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, potential signs of a tornado include a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, a dark or green-colored sky, a large, low-hanging cloud, large hail, or a flour roar that sounds like a train.

How to prepare for severe hail, wind, and thunderstorms: The first step in preparing for any severe weather is to monitor local weather conditions, which will outline the course of action needed to be taken in the presence of extreme weather.

  • According to State Farm, the best thing to do in a hailstorm is to stay inside and cover up your belongings that are outside, such as cars and bikes. State Farm recommends bringing animals inside and covering up windows in the case of very large hail to avoid being hit by glass if a window breaks.
  • If you live in an area where strong winds are frequent, FEMA suggests making sure your insurance policies are updated. The wind is unpredictable, so preparing ahead of time can often be the best protection. FEMA also states that designating a “safe room” in your home that is likely to be safest in the presence of severe weather. Other ways you can prepare is by tying down your belongings that are located outside and making sure all of your doors, windows, and trees surrounding your home are secure.
  • One of the biggest dangers present during a thunderstorm is flash flooding. In the case of a flood, you need to act fast and move to a place with a higher elevation as soon as possible, per the Deseret News.