Thunderstorms and Lightning
The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring at any moment around the world. That’s 16 million a year!
Despite their small size, all thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding. Strong winds, hail, and tornadoes are also dangers associated with some thunderstorms.
Take the time NOW to understand these dangers and learn basic safety rules!
Who’s Most at Risk from Thunderstorms?
What You Can DO!
Before the storm…
When Thunderstorms Approach….
If Caught Outdoors and No Shelter is nearby…
What is a tornado?
A tornado is a violent rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes can produce massive destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can be more than 1 mile wide and 50 miles long. The typical tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but they have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph but it may vary from stationary to 70 mph. Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they are found most frequently in the United States Rocky Mountains during the spring and summer months. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries.
How do we classify tornadoes?
Tornadoes are classified by wind speed and damage according to the Fujita Scale.
Where and when do tornadoes occur?
Tornadoes can occur anywhere at any time of the year. In the southern states peak tornado season is March through May when warm, moist gulf air mixes with the cooler air masses that extend into the south.
Who is most at risk from Tornadoes?
How can I tell if a tornado is about to occur?
When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, a severe thunderstorm or tornado WATCH is issued by the National Weather Service. Weather Service personnel use information from weather radar, spotters, and other sources to issue severe thunderstorm and tornado WARNINGS for areas where severe weather is imminent. The warnings are passed on to local radio and television stations and are broadcast over local NOAA Weather Radio stations serving the warned areas. These warnings are also relayed to local emergency management and public safety officials who can activate local warning systems to alert communities.
In addition to keeping abreast of the latest watches and warnings issued, there are certain environmental clues that Mother Nature provides us with:
Where can I find out more information about tornadoes?
What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?
A Tornado Watch means that tornadoes are possible in your area.
A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
Protection against Tornadoes:
The National Weather Service alerts the public to sever weather hazards by issuing watches and warnings that are broadcast on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) weather radio, television, and commercial radio. Meteorologists issue a tornado watch when weather conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Watches are often issued hours before severe weather develops and generally cover many counties or even several states. A tornado warning means that a tornado is occurring or is imminent. A warning is issued if a tornado has touched down, if a funnel cloud is present, or if Doppler radar indicates the presence of strong rotation in a thunderstorm updraft. The area covered by a warning is much smaller than a watch, usually only a county or two, or a portion of a county.
What to do if a tornado watch is issued: