The National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm to be severe it if produces hail ¾ inch in diameter or larger, winds of 58 mph or stronger, or tornadoes.
“Watches” are issued when conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flash floods. If you are in a watch area, make plans to seek shelter if necessary.
“Warnings” are issued when severe weather has been reported or is imminent. Seek shelter immediately if you are in or near the path of the storm.
Warnings are issued by county names. Know the name of the county you live in and the counties that surround you.
Sirens are meant to warn those who are outdoors. If you hear a siren, turn on a radio or TV to hear safety information and seek shelter immediately.
Thunderstorms, Winds and Hail
The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes.
Thunderstorms can produce a strong out rush of wind known as a “downburst” or straight-lines winds which may exceed 120 mph. They can overturn mobile homes, tear roofs off houses, and topple trees.
Hail annually causes nearly One Billion Dollars in damage nationally. Many of the losses are incurred by farmers. Large hailstones fall at speeds faster than 100 mph and have been known to kill people.
Lightning kills around 100 Americans annually with about 300 others injured.
Fact: Lightning may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
Tornado Safety Information
When a Tornado Warning is issued for your county, if you are:
In the House:
Go to the basement. Get under a table, workbench or other sturdy furniture.
If there is no basement, go into a small interior room on the lowest floor (closets, bathrooms and interior halls provide the best protection). Stay Away From Windows.
In an Apartment, School or Office Building:
Move to the innermost room on the lowest level or to a pre-designated shelter area. Crouch down and protect your head from flying debris. Avoid areas with glass and large roof spans.
In a Mobile Home:
Abandon it immediately. Seek a sturdy shelter or permanent structure. If there is not time, get out and lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression with your hands shielding your head.
In a Vehicle:
Get out of the vehicle and lie flat in a ditch or ravine. Never try to outdrive a tornado.
During a Tornado Watch:
Listen to the radio or television to get current weather information.
Bring loose objects inside or tie them down securely if they are to be left outdoors.
Be prepared to take shelter.
When a Tornado Warning is given:
Listen to the radio for updated warning information.
Move to your shelter area immediately.
Stay away from windows.
In Your Home:
Go to the basement, storm cellar or lowest level of the home and take cover, preferably under the stairwell.
If there is no basement, go to a room in the inner part of the house (with no windows), such as a bathroom or closet, on the lowest floor of the dwelling.
Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a workbench or heavy table.
In An Office Building, Hospital, Nursing Home or School:
Go to the designated shelter area.
If there is no shelter area, go to an inside hallway on the lowest floor.
In Mobile Homes:
Leave and go to a more substantial shelter. (This recommendation applies even if the mobile home is “tied down”.)
If you are out-of-doors with no shelter available:
Lie flat in a nearby ditch and shield your head with your arms.
If you’re in a vehicle:
Never try to outdrive a tornado in a vehicle. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air.
Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building.
If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the vehicle and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle. Be aware of the potential for flooding.
Nationally, floods claim nearly 200 lives annually, force 300,000 persons from their homes, and cause property damage in excess of Two Billion Dollars.
When driving, do not cross through high water. Two feet of running water is enough to carry away most vehicles. Fifty percent of flash flood deaths occur in vehicles.
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