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Terms To Know

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Issued when severe thunderstorms are possible in and close to the watch area. The Watch is issued to alert you to the possibility that storms with damaging winds, lightning, and large hail may develop.


Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when a severe thunderstorm has been spotted and will move through your area soon. Postpone outdoor activities if storms are imminent.


During The Thunderstorm

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately.
  • Move to a sturdy building. Do not take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.
  • If lightning occurs and sturdy shelter is not available, get inside a hard top automobile and keep windows up.
  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances not necessary for obtaining weather information. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Use phones only in an emergency.
  • Turn off air conditioners—power surges from lightning can overload compressors.
  • Do not attempt to drive to safety—most flash flooding deaths occur in automobiles.
  • If outdoors, find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles.
  • If you are in the woods, take shelter under short trees.
  • If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stands on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet; place your hands on your knees with you head between them; make yourself the smallest target possible; and minimize your contact with the ground.



If You Are Outdoors

  • Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind, which ma be signs of an approaching thunderstorm.
  • When lightening is seen or thunder is heard, or when dark clouds are observed, postpone activities promptly. Do not wait for rain. Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Go quickly inside a completely enclosed building. If no enclosed building is convenient, get inside a hard-topped all metal vehicle.
  • The principle lightning safety guide is the 30-30 rule. The first 30 represents 30 seconds. If the time between when you see the flash and hear the thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightning is close enough to hit you. If you haven’t already, seek shelter immediately. The second 30 stands for 30 minutes. After the last flash of lightning, wait 30 minutes before leaving your shelter.
  • Be the lowest point. Lightning hits the tallest object. In the mountains, if you are above the tree line, quickly get below the tree line and get into a grove of small trees. Crouch down if you are in an exposed area.
  • If you cant get to a shelter, stay away from trees. If there is not shelter, crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from a tree as it is tall.
  • Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles.
  • Get out of the water, off the beach and out of small oats or canoes. If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware. Avoid standing in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots.
  • Avoid metal! Drop metal backpacks and stay away from clotheslines, fences, and exposed sheds. Don’t hold on to metal items such as golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools.


If You Are Indoors

  • Avoid contact with corded phones. Lightning can travel long distances in both phone and electrical wires, particularly in rural areas.
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches as these can provide the path for a direct strike to enter a home.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. If you plan to unplug any electronic equipment, do so well before the storm arrives.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.
  • Avoid contact with concrete walls, which may contain metal reinforcing bars.
  • Bring your pets indoors before the storm.

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