Tuesday is Storms, Hail & Lightning day during the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) Severe Weather Awareness Week campaign this week.

Thunderstorms can produce strong wind gusts.  These straight-line winds have been clocked at over 100 miles per hour.  For that reason HSEM says you should treat severe thunderstorms just as you would tornadoes.  Move to an appropriate shelter if you are in the path of the storm.

Also severe thunderstorms often have tornadoes develop with no warning.  Another reason to have a healthy respect for a severe thunderstorm warning.

Lightning kills around 100 Americans each year with about 300 injuries.  Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which on a national basis kills more people than tornadoes in a given year.

Many of the deaths and injuries from lighting occurred outdoors but some have happened for example while talking on the phone indoors.

The National Weather Service has some lightning safety tips:

  • All thunderstorms produce lightning.  It is surprising so many people are not aware of this.
  • Get inside a building or enclosed vehicle.  Many fatalities occur when the warning signs are ignored.
  • If caught in an open area with lightning all around, crouch down immediately!  Put your hands on your knees but do not lie down on the ground.
  • Do not use a telephone or electrical appliance.  A nearby lightning strike can travel through the phone or power lines right into the home.
  • Avoid seeking shelter beneath lone trees.

Some myths and facts about lightning according to the National Weather Service:

Heat lightning occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.  There is no such thing as heat lightning.  What is referred to as "heat lightning" is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far awa for thunder to be heard.  The storm may be moving in your direction.

If it's not raining there is no danger from lightning.  Not true.  In fact lightning often strikes away from heavy rainfall and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.

Hail information from the National Weather Service.

Some good advice for us.

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