The average thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Despite their small size, ALL thunderstorms are dangerous. EVERY thunderstorm produces lightning, which can kill people. Heavy rain can lead to flash flooding, Strong winds, hail and tornadoes are also dangers associated with some thunderstorms. The National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm severe if it produces hail at least 3/4 inch in diameter, wind 58 mph or higher or produces tornadoes.
A Severe Thunderstorm WATCH tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are more likely to occur. WATCHES tell you conditions are favorable and are used to heighten public awareness. A Severe Thunderstorm WARNING is issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. WARNINGS are used to tell the public of the definite danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
Before the Storm
Listen to local weather via radio/TV.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outside.
- Watch for signs of approaching storms.
- If outside, keep a portable radio with you.
- Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent.
When Thunderstorms Approach
- If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.
- Take shelter indoors if possible, not under trees or in small sheds.
- If lightning is present and you can't get to a building, get in a hard top vehicle.
- Get out of boats and away from water.
- Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Avoid telephone use except in an emergency.
- Do not take a bath or shower.
- Turn off air conditioners as power surges from lightning overload compressors.
- If outside, find a low spot away from trees, fences and poles.
- If in the woods, take shelter under shorter trees.
- If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet and place your hands on your knees with your head between them. This makes you a smaller target and minimizes your contact with the ground.
- If swimming or boating, get to land and find shelter immediately.
Thunderstorms can be very dangerous. Please take the necessary precautions to protect you and your family.