Severe Storms & Tornadoes

Preparing for Severe Storms

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and discuss plans to communicate with members of your family.
  • Keeping dead, rotted, or damaged limbs pruned can help prevent personal injury or property damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • When severe storms are predicted, postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause personal or property damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although still may be injured if lightning strikes your car, but you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, 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.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives. Lightning can travel through these cords and do further damage.

The Nature of Thunderstorms

  • Thunderstorms may occur as one cloud or, they may form in clusters or in lines.
  • The most severe thunderstorms occur when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended period of time.
  • Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain lasting for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Severe thunderstorms are most prevelant when the air conditions are very warm and humid or moist.
  • Characteristics include hail production of at least an inch or larger in diameter, maintains winds of 58 mph or higher, or produces a tornado. Only about 10 % of thunderstorms are classified as severe.


Severe Thunderstorm Watch– This means the conditions, warm and moist, are right for the development of severe thunderstorms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning– Determined by spotters or weather RADAR, these warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.