Severe weather Thunder & Lightning tips

Severe Weather Awareness Week continues through april 17th.

According to the National Weather Service, severe thunderstorms can bring many dangers in addition to occasional tornadoes. other hazards include damaging winds and large hail. some severe thunderstorms can produce winds over 100 miles an hour, resulting in damage equal to that of a tornado. Since 1970, high winds, mostly from severe thunderstorms, were responsible for 121 weather related deaths in Michigan. During that same time period there were 23 tornado related deaths.

In 2009, there was one Michigan death as a result of severe thunderstorm winds. Unfortunately there were also four lightning injuries on July 22, 2009 in Big Rapids.

Residents should not be complacent about severe thunderstorm warnings when they are issued.

Here are some thunder and lightning safety tips:

- know the county in which you live or are vacationing in, and the names of the nearby counties and major cities. Severe thunderstorm warnings use counties and cities as references.

- check the weather forecast before leaving for extended outdoor periods. - watch for signs of approaching storms.

- postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent.

- check on those who might have trouble getting to shelter if severe weather threatens.

When thunderstorms approach...

- when thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Lightning can arc 5 to 10 miles from the thunderstorm. Go to safe shelter immediately. You are not safe outdoors.

- move to a sturdy building or car. If in a building, stay away from windows. Do not take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.

- if lightning is occurring and a sturdy shelter is not available, get inside a hard top automobile and keep windows up.

- get out of boats and away from water.

- telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Unplug appliances not necessary for obtaining weather information. Avoid using corded telephones or any electrical appliances. Use telephones only in an emergency.

- do not take a bath or shower.

- turn off air conditioners. power surges from lightning can overload the compressors.

If caught outdoors:

- keep abreast of the weather conditions so as not to get caught outdoors.

- run to the nearest shelter. no place outside is safe in a thunderstorm.

- a hard top automobile offers some protection. Keep windows up.

- if you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately!

Time is critical when any type of severe weather threatens.