Severe Thunderstorms & Lightning

All thunderstorms are dangerous and every thunderstorm produces lightning.  Thunder and lightning can sometimes even come with a snowstorm!  In North Central Texas, most thunderstorms happen in the afternoon.

"If thunder roars, go indoors."

By counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder and dividing by five, you can estimate your distance from the strike in miles.

IF A THUNDERSTORM IS IN YOUR AREA

  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible).  Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.  Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide no protection from lightning.  However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Get out of boats and away from water.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors.  If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.
  • Use a corded telephone only for emergencies.  Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners.  Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • No place outside is safe when lightning is in the area.  Stay indoors until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.

THINGS TO AVOID

  • Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
  • Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Anything:
    • Bicycles
    • Farm equipment
    • Golf carts
    • Golf clubs
    • Motorcycles
    • Metal-tractors
  • Avoid showering or bathing.  Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.  It is probably a good idea to avoid washing dishes, hands or laundry as well during this time.

FACTS ABOUT LIGHTNING

  • Lightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
  • Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
  • "Heat lightning" is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard.  However, the storm may be moving in your direction!
  • Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  • Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000 but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions.
  • Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

FACTS ABOUT THUNDERSTORMS

  • They may occur singly, in clusters, or in lines.
  • Some of the most severe occur when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended time.
  • The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes to one hour.
  • Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period.
  • Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorm development.
  • About 10% of thunderstorms are classified as severe-one that produces hail at least three-quarters of an inch in diameter, has winds of 58 miles per hour or higher, or produces a tornado.
  • At any moment in time, over more than 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring around the world - that’s 16 million a year!

IF SOMEONE IS HIT BY LIGHTNING

  • Call 9-1-1 for help immediately.  Being struck by lightning can cause burns or nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.
  • You may touch them – they don’t carry an electrical charge.
  • Give first aid or CPR if necessary.