Any time of day, tornadoes have the power to wreak havoc and even claim the lives of the unprepared. However, tornadoes in the dead of night are even more dangerous. So, if you’re in a region with a tornado watch at night, should you sleep during the tornado watch?

Not if you can help it. A tornado watch essentially tells residents to stay ready and prepared in case of a tornado. Therefore, sleeping during a tornado watch can be dangerous as you may be caught off-guard in case the tornado occurs.

Keep reading below for more information.

Should I Sleep During Tornado Watch?

It’s advised to be vigilant during a tornado watch, if possible, so that you are prepared to take action. Sleeping during a tornado watch can be risky, especially if it happens at night when people switch off their electronics and may not hear the weather alert even if it goes off. 

Because warning sirens were intended to alert people outside, you cannot rely on them. And since everyone is asleep, you cannot notify friends or relatives because you are not in contact with them. Because of this, extra safety measures must be taken to be ready for nocturnal tornadoes.

If, however, you do decide to sleep during a tornado watch, make sure you have access to lots of blankets and sleep in a room deep inside the house, such as the basement, to protect yourself in the event of a tornado.

Are Nighttime Tornadoes Riskier?

As the name implies, nocturnal tornadoes are tornadoes that develop at nighttime. While tornadoes that strike during night hours are often less frequent or less violent than their afternoon or daylight counterparts, the NOAA has discovered that they are twice as likely to be fatal.

Only 27.3% of the twisters, according to some researchers, occurred at night between sunset and daybreak. However, over the 55-year research period, 27.3% of nocturnal tornadoes were accountable for 42.1% of all deadly tornadoes and 39.3% of all tornado fatalities.

In addition, the study found that just approximately one in every 50 daylight tornadoes was fatal, compared to around one in every 20 at night.

One explanation for this could be that, without regular lightning, tornadoes are often invisible in the dark. This makes it harder for meteorologists at the National Weather Service to identify that tornadoes are present on the surface in the dark since fewer storm spotters are ready to track storms at night. This might result in shorter lead times for issuing tornado warnings.

A lot of individuals can also be caught off guard by nocturnal tornadoes since they can sleep and not be aware that a severe twister is moving in their direction.

Difference Between Tornado Watch vs Tornado Warning

Let’s first clarify the distinction between a tornado watch and a tornado warning before moving on with this topic.

Tornado Watch: Stay Alert!

This implies that there is a chance of tornadoes in and around the watch area. Go through and talk about your emergency preparations, and then check your supplies and safe room. If the NWS issues a warning or you believe a tornado is nearby, be prepared to take rapid action. 

Early action can save lives! The Storm Prediction Center issues watch for areas where tornadoes are possible. Typically, the watch region is extensive, encompassing many counties or entire states.

Tornado Warning: Take Action!

This implies that the weather radar has detected or shown the presence of a tornado. Life and property are at grave risk. Get inside a shelter’s lowest floor and find a room there. Bypass the windows. 

Move to the nearest substantial shelter if you’re inside a mobile home, a car, or outside, and keep your head covered to protect yourself from flying objects. The normal size of a warning is closer to that of a city or small county. 

Warnings are issued when a tornado is sighted on the ground or detected by a forecaster on the radar.

How to Prepare for Nocturnal Tornadoes

When severe weather is predicted, it is essential to have a strategy in place to safeguard yourself and your family, but this is arguably even more true when there is a higher possibility of nighttime tornadoes. 

Twisters are among the most dangerous environmental catastrophes on Earth, and when they occur at night, they provide a far higher risk.

Especially when severe storms occur at night, having a clear severe weather safety plan in place ahead of time and following it when a warning is given may easily be the difference between life and death. During a tornado, you might only have a short opportunity to find safety.

For more information on how to prepare for a tornado, watch this video below:

Emergency Preparedness: Tornados

  • It’s also a good idea to have a battery-operated weather radio nearby. Additionally, amid nocturnal extreme weather outbreaks, having a flashlight, bottled water, sealed shoes, and a huge fluffy blanket is essential.
  • Every family member must know where their safe place is, which may be a dedicated tornado shelter. The best places to seek refuge during a tornado are the basement, areas away from windows, an internal stairway, or an internal bathroom. Whenever a warning is issued, remember to take your pets with you to a shelter and include them in your emergency plans.
  • To protect your body and head from flying objects, you can cover them up with blankets or a mattress. Your head can be protected by wearing a helmet.
  • Make sure that any telephones and other weather-notification tools, like an NOAA weather radio, are powered up in the days before the event and that your refuge is filled with food, drink, blankets, pillows, and whatever else you might need to keep yourself amused. You can’t be sure how long you’ll stay there.


A tornado watch tells residents to stay ready in a tornado because one may be nearby. Therefore, it may not be the safest thing to do to sleep during a tornado watch if you can help it.