Natural and Man Made Hazards
Thunderstorms can bring heavy rains (which can cause flash flooding), strong winds, hail, lightning and tornadoes. In a severe thunderstorm get inside a sturdy building and stay tuned to a battery-operated radio for weather information.
Lightning is a major threat during a thunderstorm. In the United States, between 75 to 100 Americans are hit and killed each year by lightning. If you are caught outdoors, avoid natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in an open area or the top of a hill and metal objects such as wire fences, golf clubs and metal tools.
It is a myth that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. In fact, lightning will strike several times in the same place in the course of one discharge.
While thunderstorms and lightning can be found throughout the United States, they are most likely to occur in the central and southern states. The state with the highest number of thunderstorm days is Florida.
A thunderstorm is formed from a combination of moisture, rapidly rising warm air and a force capable of lifting air such as a warm and cold front, a sea breeze or a mountain. All thunderstorms contain lightning. Thunderstorms may occur singly, in clusters or in lines. Thus, it is possible for several thunderstorms to affect one location in the course of a few hours. Some of the most severe weather occurs when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended time.
Lightning is an electrical discharge that results from the buildup of positive and negative charges within a thunderstorm. 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. A bolt of lightning reaches a temperature approaching 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit in a split second. The rapid heating and cooling of air near the lightning causes thunder.
The media can raise awareness about thunderstorms and lightning by providing important information to the community. Here are some suggestions: Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency information about thunderstorms and lightning.