Thunderstorm safety and information - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Thunderstorm safety and information

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Each year an average of 100,000 thunderstorms occur in the United States, with Iowa seeing an average of 45 to 65 thunderstorms each year. Most of our thunderstorms occur between April and September with the peak being in June

Only about 10% of all thunderstorms are classified as a severe thunderstorm. But what classifies a thunderstorm as severe?

The National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm to be severe if it produces either hail at least 1" in diameter (quarter size), has winds of 58 mph or higher, or produces a tornado. A thunderstorm must have at least one of these criteria before the NWS will issue a severe thunderstorm warning. Notice that heavy rain and frequent lighting do not qualify a storm as severe.

No matter if it is a severe thunderstorm or not, all thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. It is the lightning that produces the thunder in a thunderstorm. 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the United States each year, killing more people each year than tornadoes. Most lightning-related deaths and injuries are preventable. Here are a few simple tips to ensure your safety the next time you are in a thunderstorm.

Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors! At the first clap of thunder, go inside a substantial building or a fully enclosed vehicle. You should wait 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder before you go back outside.

If you are outside during a thunderstorm, avoid water, high ground, open spaces, and metal objects. When possible, find shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle. Sometimes there are signs that alert you lightning is about to strike you or an area near you. Your hair may stand on end, or you may feel a tingling in your skin. Sometimes light metal objects may vibrate, and you may hear a crackling sound. If you detect any of these signals get inside immediately. If no shelter is immediately available, assume the lightning crouch immediately. You should put your feet together, crouch down like a baseball catcher, and place your hands over your ears.

If you are indoors, avoid water, stay away from windows, do not use the telephone, and unplug as many appliances as possible. Lightning may strike exterior electric or phone line, producing shocks to equipment inside your home. If you are using these items, you may get shocked as well.

Lightning makes every single thunderstorm a potential killer, whether the storm produces one single bolt or ten thousand bolts. With common sense, you can greatly increase your safety. Remember, at the first clap of thunder, get inside and wait at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder before you go back outside.

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