Severe Thunderstorm and Lightning
Thunderstorms can be exciting to watch, especially from the safety of your warm, comfy couch. Besides staying dry, here's another good reason to stay inside (and stay off the telephone during severe weather)—lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes. Since every thunderstorm produces lightning, you need to be prepared! Flash floods and hail are also dangers associated with thunderstorms. We'll help you prepare for them too, later on in this section.
ONE ONE-THOUSAND, TWO ONE-THOUSAND, KABOOM! By counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder and dividing by five, you can estimate your distance from the strike (in miles).
- In North Central Texas, most thunderstorms happen in the afternoon.
- Thunder and lightning can sometimes even come with a snowstorm!
- At any moment in time, over 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring around the world-that's 16 million a year!
- The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes.
Severe Thunderstorm and Lightning Safety Tips:
- If you can hear thunder, you're close enough to be struck by lightning—find safe shelter immediately.
- Move to a sturdy building and stay away from the windows (don't take shelter in a shed, under isolated trees or in a convertible vehicle).
- If a sturdy shelter is not available, get inside a hardtop vehicle, keep the windows up, and do not touch metal.
- Get out of boats and away from water.
- Unplug appliances and avoid using the telephone except in an emergency.
If Someone Is Hit by Lightning:
- You may touch them—they don't carry an electrical charge.
- Call for help immediately. Being struck by lightning can cause burns or nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.
- Give first aid or CPR if necessary.
Lightning Fact Vs. Fiction
Fiction: Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
Fact: Lightning has “favorite” sites that it may hit many times during one storm.
Fiction: If it’s not raining, then there’s no danger from lightning.
Fact: Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
Fiction: The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.
Fact: 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. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
Fiction: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
Fact: Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
Fiction: “Heat lightning” occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.
Fact: What is referred to, as “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, so be prepared!