Homeland Security and Emergency Services

What You Should Know

clouds

All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Lightning kills more people in this country each year than tornadoes.

Lightning is the result of the building and discharge of electrical energy. When the buildup becomes strong enough, lightning appears as a "bolt." This flash of light usually occurs within the clouds or between the clouds and the ground. The air in a lightning strike is heated to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It is this rapid heating of the air that produces the shock wave that results in thunder.

Outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a severe thunderstorm.

  • Be aware. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or your local TV and radio station for the latest severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.
  • Severe thunderstorms are those storms with winds in excess of 58 mph or hail larger than 3/4 inches in diameter. When conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, a severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the National Weather Service.
  • If severe thunderstorms and lightning are forecast, plan an alternate activity or know where you can take cover quickly.