Thunderstorms and Lightning

All thunderstorms produce lightning and all have the potential for danger. Those dangers can include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfires and flash flooding, which is responsible for more fatalities than any other thunderstorm-related hazard.

Lightning's risk is increased because of its unpredictability - lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning.

  • Know the terms:

    • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: large hail, winds 58 mph or greater or a tornado are possible in your area in the next 3 to 6 hours.

    • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: large hail, winds 58 mph or greater or a tornado are happening in your area or are about to happen.

  • Use the 30/30 rule:

    • If the time between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder is 30 seconds or less, then lightning is close enough to strike you. Go inside immediately.

    • Wait inside until 30 minutes have passed since the last flash of lightning.

If you are driving:

  • try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and close the windows.

    • Turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends.

    • Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building:

  • avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers.

    • Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

If you are on open water:

  • Get to land and find shelter immediately.

Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike)

  • Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet.

  • Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees.

  • Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact it the ground.

  • DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

Have a Thunderstorm Plan

  • Listen to local TV or radio for weather watches and warnings.

  • If a thunderstorm is likely in your area, go indoors and use the 30/30 rule.

  • Secure outdoor items that could blow away.

  • Plumbing, bathroom fixtures and corded telephones can conduct electricity and cause serious injury.

  • Unplug computers or television sets to prevent power surges.

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