A thunderstorm consists of two prominent elements: lightning and thunder. It is often accompanied by dense clouds, heavy rain or hail, and strong winds.
However, some thunderstorms produce little precipitation to no precipitation. Such thunderstorms, also known as “dry thunderstorms,” can cause the outbreak of wildfires.
Thunderstorms are classified into four categories: single-cell, multi-cell cluster, multi-cell lines, and supercells.
Thunderstorms are common across the world. An estimated 16 million thunderstorms hit different locations globally each year, and there are about 100,000 thunderstorms each year in the United States alone.
About one in ten thunderstorms reach severe levels. Many hazardous weather events like flash floods and wildfires are associated with thunderstorms.
They pose the greatest weather threat in the region, extending from Texas to southern Minnesota in the United States.
Although the odds of you being struck by lightning in a given year are less than 1 in a million, you can’t ignore the risk factors associated with thunderstorms!
However, there is no reason to panic. Take these precautions to ensure that you and your loved ones remain safe even during a thunderstorm.
Understand The Warning Signs
While no city in the United States is fully safe from thunderstorms, a few cities are more at risk, especially during the spring and summer. You need to be more cautious if you live in Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Tallahassee, or New Orleans.
The onset of some thunderstorms can be abrupt and violent, but in most cases, there are a few tell-tale signs before the thunderstorm strikes.
Subscribe to updates on mobile weather apps and keep an eye on the weather to look out for an impending thunderstorm.
Some common warning signs are:
- Rapidly rising large, puffy, cumulus clouds
- Darkening sky
- Abrupt changes in wind direction
- A sudden drop in temperature
What If You Are Outside When A Storm Hits?
If you find yourself outdoors when a thunderstorm hits, remember the golden rule: when thunder roars, go indoors.
Take shelter immediately when you notice dark clouds, lightning, or thunder. Try to find an enclosed building, and in case you are not able to, seek shelter inside a truck or SUV.
If there are other people with you, spread out to ensure each individual is safe. In case you are riding a motorcycle or bicycle when the storm starts, get off immediately and run to an enclosed building if possible.
Sometimes a thunderstorm may start abruptly when you are outdoors and not in a situation to get inside a building. In such a case, squat down and put your hands on your knees and place your head in between.
You can also take shelter under a cluster of small trees but avoid lone trees. Plus, First Choice Power, a retail electric provider in Texas, advises you to keep a safe distance from standing water near wires.
Precautions To Take If You Are Inside A House
It is much safer to be indoors during a thunderstorm. However, there are still a few precautions to take to protect yourselves and your loves ones from harm.
Go to a sheltered area within the building and stay away from windows, doors, and fireplaces. Avoid using a landline telephone during a storm – though you can still use a cell phone.
Avoid handling water in any way during a thunderstorm as lighting can travel through plumbing. Do not take a shower, wash dishes, or touch water in any way.
Stay away from electronic equipment of all kinds, including kitchen appliances, laptops, and radio and television reception systems.
The Department of Homeland Security suggests unplugging all of your electronic appliances before a thunderstorm starts.
It is a good idea to buy surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home appliances if you live in a high-risk area.
How To Keep Children And Animal Companions Safe
Thunderstorms are extremely scary for small children and animals. Cats and dogs are more sensitive to sounds than humans, and the sounds of thunder and lighting can be distressing for them.
Similarly, it is natural for small kids to feel frightened. In addition to keeping your children and animals physically safe, you also need to ensure they feel emotionally secure.
Both children and animals tend to pick up on your body language cues, and if you remain calm, they will as well.
Engage your children in activities like story-telling, drawing, playing indoor games, etc. to keep them busy and stimulated. You can even talk to older children about the storm and explain how thunder and lightning work.
Make your animal companions feel safer by giving them their favorite toys and talking to them in soothing tones.
What To Do After The Thunderstorm
Don’t leave your house immediately after the thunderstorm passes and avoid driving in the flooded lanes.
Stay tuned to the weather news for updates on flash floods and other hazards that are likely in the aftermath of a storm.
Once it is safe enough to go outside, check your property for damages and alert the authorities if you see fallen trees or downed power lines.
Contact your family and friends to enquire if they are safe. Check on your neighbors to see if they need any assistance.
Power outages are common during thunderstorms, but the electricity supply is usually restored soon after the storm passes.
Plug in and restart your electric appliances one at a time to avoid overloading the electric circuits in your home.
Contact your local transmission and distribution utility to report outages, downed utility lines, or damage to your electric meter.
Given the frequency of thunderstorms and related outages, the need to add renewable energy sources to diversify our electricity sources is increasingly being felt.
Energy suppliers like Cleanchoice Energy are taking the lead in making renewable energy sources more accessible in America, thereby diversifying the country’s electrical grid.
While it is wise to be equipped to deal with a thunderstorm during the spring and summer months, don’t panic.
Sign up for regular weather updates on mobile apps, watch out for tell-tale signs of a storm before planning an outing, and put your entire house on a surge-protection system.
The threat of a thunderstorm shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the beautiful warm weather. Be prepared, stay safe!