Some thunderstorms can be seen approaching, while others hit without warning. It is important to learn and recognize the danger signs and to plan ahead.
BEFORE A THUNDERSTORM
Learn the thunderstorm danger signs.
Check for hazards in the yard.
Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a thunderstorm.
Mitigation includes any activities that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or lessen the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Investing in preventive mitigation steps now, such as installing lightning rods to carry the electrical charge of lightning bolts safely to the ground or purchasing flood insurance, will help reduce the impact of severe thunderstorms in the future. For more information on mitigation, contact your Local Emergency Management office.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCHES AND WARNINGS
A severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the National Weather Service when the weather conditions are such that a severe thunderstorm (damaging winds 58 miles per hour or more, or hail three fourths of an inch in diameter or greater) is likely to develop. This is the time to locate a safe place in the home and tell family members to watch the sky and listen to the radio or television for more information.
A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. At this point, the danger is very serious and everyone should go to a safe place, turn on a battery operated radio or television, and wait for the “all clear” by the authorities.
DURING A THUNDERSTORM
If in a car:
ESTIMATING THE DISTANCE FROM A THUNDERSTORM
Because light travels much faster than sound, lightning flashes can be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. Estimate the number of miles you are from a thunderstorm by counting the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by five. Important: You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. Knowing how far away a storm is does not mean that you’re in danger only when the storm is overhead. Hail is produced by many strong thunderstorms. Hail can be smaller than a pea or as large as a softball and can be very destructive to plants and crops. In a hailstorm, take cover immediately. Pets and livestock are particularly vulnerable to hail, so bring animals into a shelter.