WeatherGuide Fayetteville 2011 : Page 8
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Protect yourself from deadly lightning, damaging hail and flooding rain.
At any given moment, there are roughly 2,000 thunderstorms in progress around the world.This time of year it’s common to hear “scattered afternoon thunderstorms” just about every day in the forecast. Thunderstorms can form when the atmosphere is unstable—warm air rises from the hot ground and builds tall cumulus clouds that can grow into storms. A passing cold front or approaching low pressure system can also trigger thunderstorms. An average thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts around 30 minutes. Sometimes these are quick downpours. However, some thunderstorms become severe, meaning they produce hail at least one inch in diameter, winds 58 miles per hour or stronger, and/or a tornado.
If conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms to form, the National Weather service will issue a severe thunderstorm watch. If this type of dangerous storm is spotted on radar and is imminent, then a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. A warning is more serious than a watch.Lightning is one of the most dangerous phenomena in a thunderstorm. However, whenever you hear the roar of thunder, seek shelter immediately. Do not wait until you see a flash of lightning.
If You Are in An Open Recreation Area or on the Golf Course:
Wide open spaces can be the most dangerous place during a thunderstorm because shelter is usually not nearby. According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, about 5 percent of lightning deaths in the U.S. annually occur on golf courses.
“A good rule for everyone is: “If you can see it (lightning), flee it; if you can hear it (thunder), clear it.” –National Lightning Safety Institute
If You Are Swimming in a Pool, a Lake, the Ocean or Any Body of Water:
A body of water is a dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm. Water is a conductor of electricity, which means even if lightning strikes the other end of the pool, you can still be injured. Leave the water and seek shelter at the first signs of a thunderstorm.
If You Are In a Boat On the Water:
It is crucial to listen to the weather when you are boating. If thunderstorms are forecast, don’t go out. If you are out on the water and skies are threatening, get back to land and find a safe building or safe vehicle. Always have a NOAA Weather Radio with you when you are out on your boat.
Boats with cabins offer a safer, but not perfect environment, according to the National Weather Service. If you are stuck on your boat in a thunderstorm and are inside your cabin, stay away from metal and all electrical components, including the radio. If your boat does not have a cabin, crouch down in the lowest area. Do not dangle legs or arms off the side.
If you are caught in a thunderstorm on a small boat, drop anchor and get as low as possible.
If You are in Your Car:
A safe vehicle is any fully enclosed, metal-topped vehicle, such as a hard-topped car, minivan, bus, truck, etc. Do NOT leave your vehicle during a thunderstorm unless there is a tornado warning. In this case, seek shelter or low ground, like a ditch. Unsafe vehicles include convertibles, golf carts and riding mowers.
Myths & Facts About Lightning
Myth: Rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being injured by lightning.Fact: Rubber provides no protection from lightning.
However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection from lightning (if you are not touching metal in the car).
Myth: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
Fact: Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
Myth: Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.
Fact: It can strike the same place over and over again. For example, the Empire State Building in New York City gets hit around 25 times per year!
Myth: Heat lightning occurs after very hot summer days and poses no threat.
Fact: What is referred to as “heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
Source: NOAA/National Lightning Safety Institute
Hail is caused by small ice particles rising and falling inside a thunderstorm. Stronger vertical winds in the thunderstorm cause larger hail because the particles are suspended for a longer period of time.
Large hail is especially dangerous for drivers, as it can break glass and even total a car. If you are driving and caught in a severe hailstorm, it’s advisable to pull over until the storm passes. If it’s a really bad storm, get down to the floor and cover your head, and especially your eyes, from breaking glass.
Read the full article at http://digital.cumulusweather.com/article/Thunderstorms/788795/76220/article.html.