Severe Weather Awareness Week - Severe Thunderstorms

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Today is devoted to severe thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are a common occurrence in the Wiregrass any time of the day, month or year. There are about 2000 thunderstorms in progress around the world at any given moment. However, less than one percent of these thunderstorms are classified as severe. Severe thunderstorms are defined as thunderstorms that produce one inch hail or larger and or strong wind gusts of 58 miles per hour or greater. Severe hail that is one inch in diameter is roughly the size of a quarter.

All thunderstorms generate potentially deadly lightning. However, lightning in a thunderstorm does not necessarily mean that the thunderstorm is severe. Occasionally, a small percentage of severe thunderstorms produce tornadoes with little or no lightning at all.

The Wiregrass peak Severe Weather Season includes the months of March, April and May. During this season, severe thunderstorms usually form during the late afternoon and evening hours, but may form at anytime. We have a Fall Severe Weather period that runs from November through mid December. Therefore, severe thunderstorms can and do occur in any month of the year.

Here are some Severe Thunderstorm Safety Rules...

The best defense against thunderstorms is to stay inside a sturdy, substantial building that can protect you from deadly lightning, large hail, damaging winds, flooding rain and tornadoes. Fortunately, thunderstorms typically do not last very long and will most often pass by your location in less than one hour. If caught outside, find shelter immediately. Once in a shelter, stay away from windows and avoid electrical equipment. Be sure to secure loose objects outside as these objects often become dangerous flying debris in high winds.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. People located in and around the watch area should keep an eye to the sky and listen to their NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards or tune to the local broadcast media for further weather information. Typically, watches last around 6 hours and cover a relatively large area.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that either a severe thunderstorm is occurring, has been detected by National Weather Service Doppler Radar, or a reliable report has been received. Persons in the warned area should take immediate action to protect their lives, lives of others, and their property. Tornadoes can and occasionally do accompany severe thunderstorms. Treat this warning the same as you would for a Tornado Warning by taking the proper safety precautions. warnings are issued for smaller more specific locations and generally last for one hour or less.

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