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Thunderstorm Safety

Why worry about thunderstorms?

A thunderstorm affects a relatively small area when compared to a hurricane or a winter storm. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Despite their small size, ALL thunderstorms are dangerous! Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms that occur each year in the United States, about 10 percent are classified as severe.

Who's Most At-Risk from Thunderstorms?

From tornadoes, people who are in mobile homes our outdoors.

From lightning, people who are outdoors, or anyone who stays outdoors when thunderstorms are nearby.

From flash flooding, people who walk or drive through flood waters.

From large hail, people who are caught outdoors.

Be Prepared

Each year, many people are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms despite advance warning. Some did not hear the warning; others heard the warning but did not believe it would happen to them. The following preparedness information, combined with timely severe weather watches and warnings, may save your life. If you hear a warning or observe threatening skies, only YOU can make the decision to seek safety. This could be the most important decision you will ever make.

Develop a plan for you and your family at home, work, school, and when outdoors. The American Red Cross offers tips at:, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at:

Practice Your Plan

When Dangerous Weather Approaches

Avoid the Lightning Threat

When Caught Outside During Thunder

There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm. Plan ahead to avoid this dangerous situation! If you're outside and hear thunder, the only way to significantly reduce your risk of becoming a lightning casualty is to get inside a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle as fast as you can. Remember, there is no substitute for getting to a safe place.

This information is courtesy of the National Weather Service.

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Last Updated: 7/16/12