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Severe Weather: Lightning makes every storm dangerous

Posted at 9:41 AM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-18 09:41:39-04

March 17-23 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week and RTV6 is Working For You to make sure you and your families are prepared when there’s severe weather. Each day this week, RTV6 will be debunking weather myths and offering tips to keep you safe.

A relatively small percentage of thunderstorms become severe by producing 58 mph winds or 1” diameter hail. However, lightning makes every thunderstorm dangerous. By definition, every thunderstorm contains lightning. So, every thunderstorm deserves your attention!

A common misconception or myth is that you can’t be struck by lightning if it’s not raining. Lightning can strike ten to 15 miles ahead of an approaching thunderstorm. So, when you hear thunder or see lightning go indoors. Too often we wait until it starts raining to get inside. As the National Weather Service says, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

Once inside your house, stay away from windows. Don’t talk on a corded phone. You remember what I’m talking about right? The phone hanging on the wall. Electricity produced by a lightning strike can travel through the wiring in your home. Also stay out of the shower or bathtub. The pipes in your home can conduct electricity from a nearby lightning strike.

Here’s a simple trick to tell how far away the approaching thunderstorm is from you. After a flash of lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder. Divide that number by 5 to get the number of miles you are located from the lighting strike. So if you counted to ten, the storm would be 2 miles away!

It’s recommended you wait thirty minutes after hearing thunder for the last time before resuming your outdoor activities.