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Thunderstorms: Are You Prepared?

Now that we are entering the beginning of summer months, the likelihood of a thunderstorm to sweep across the state is more prominent. According to WFMZ-TV, thunderstorms are most likely to occur from May to August. They usually develop at the time of day when surface air is the warmest, which is generally around 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Are you prepared for the next thunderstorm?

 

Thunderstorm Facts

  • Around 23 million lightning strikes occur each year in the US.
  • From 1984 to 2013, the US has averaged 51 lightning fatalities per year.
  • Only 10% of people struck by lightning are killed. 90% live, however cope with a degree of discomfort and disability.
Weather Fatalities in the US

 

Watch vs. Warning. What’s the difference?

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible in and close to the watch area.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm has been spotted in your area and is going to move through your county soon. Take precautionary actions immediately.

Thunderstorm Safety Tips

In Preparation

  • Severe weather warnings are issued on a county basis, so know the county in which you live in and the names of nearby cities.
  • Prepare by gathering a few disaster supplies, including:
    • Flashlight
    • Battery operated radio
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Emergency food and water
    • Non-electric can opener
    • Essential medicines
    • Checkbook, cash, credit cards, ATM cards
  • For more information on what emergency supplies to prepare, refer to this website.

Before the Storm

  • Check the weather forecast
  • Look out for signs of approaching storms
  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio or AM/FM radio with you if a storm is brewing.
  • Postpone outdoor activities when necessary.
  • Check on neighbors who may require special assistance.

During the Storm

If you can hear thunder, you are within a close enough proximity of the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to a safe shelter immediately.

  • Go to a sturdy building or car. DO NOT take shelter under trees, in small sheds or in convertible automobiles.
  • Get out of boats and away from water.
  • Unplug appliances not necessary for obtaining weather information. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Telephone lines and metal pipes conduct electricity.
  • Do not take a bath or shower.
  • Turn off air conditioners as power can overload the compressors.
  • If flash flooding or flooding is possible, get to higher ground. Do not attempt to drive to safety.

If you are caught in a storm with no shelter nearby:

  • Go to a low spot away from any trees, fences and poles. Make sure that the area you choose is not prone to potential flooding.
  • If in the woods, take shelter under shorter trees.
  • If your skin begins to tingle or your hair stands on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Put your head between your legs and make yourself the smallest target possible. Minimize your contact with the ground.

After the Storm

  • Check on neighbors who may need special assistance.
  • Avoid any fallen power lines.
  • Monitor the NOAA Weather Radio and local media for any weather updates.

 

Sources: RPI.edu, Weather.gov, WFMZ.com