Thunderstorm season is here. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe

Weather Blog
Courtesy of James Montanus, Thunderstorm over Lake Ontario, March 2021

Last Wednesday, we were dealing with one of the most significant late season snowfalls in quite a while.

This Wednesday, it will feel and look the part of summer. Call it a case of “whiplash weather”!

In fact, we may even hear the “sounds of summer” as some of the first thunderstorms of the season blossom into the afternoon.

It’s been a while since we’ve encountered a percolating summerlike atmosphere that would be conducive for thunderstorm development. Last week’s shoveling and shivering makes it even more striking!

In house RPM model depiction of Wednesday midday

But that is indeed what’s in store for your Wednesday. With warmer air surging into the region tomorrow and a disturbance in the mid-levels of the atmosphere sweeping from west to east across Western New York, the stage is set for AT LEAST a few garden variety thunderstorms to pop by afternoon. One or two of those storms, however, could go “rogue”, producing hail along with briefly strong and gusty winds.

Get the latest News 8 Forecast here!

That said, and in keeping with the theme of Severe Weather Awareness Week, this seems like the perfect opportunity to review some of the basics that you should keep in mind as we enter thunderstorm season.

Let’s cover all the bases about what you should do BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER a thunderstorm hits your home.

BEFORE SEVERE WEATHER STRIKES

Remember the “4 P’s”

  1. PREPARE– Sign up for notifications to your phone or device. The News 8 app is a great source!
  2. PLAN- Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. Pick a safe room in your home such as a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Conduct a family severe thunderstorm drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if damaging wind or large hail is approaching. Make sure all members of your family know to go to the designated “safe spot” when severe thunderstorm warnings are issued. Don’t forget pets if time allows.
  3. PRUNE : Keep trees and branches trimmed near your house. If you have time before severe weather hits, secure loose objects, close windows and doors, and move any valuable objects inside or under a sturdy structure.
  4. PROTECT: Encourage your loved ones to prepare for severe thunderstorms. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt during severe weather.

WHEN SEVERE WEATHER STRIKES

  1. STAY ALERT AND INFORMED- Make sure you can receive updated notifications about severe weather over the air or on your device. Remember, “when thunder roars, head indoors”!
  2. STAY SAFE INDOORS- If you’re at home, work, or school, go to your planned secure location when you are alerted that a severe weather warning has been issued. Stay away from windows especially if damaging wind and hail are expected. DO NOT use electric appliances. DO NOT use corded telephones. And YES, the old saying is true: AVOID using the sink, shower, or bathtub. The electrical current from a lightning strike can travel through wiring AND, yes, even plumbing!
  3. STAY LOW TO THE GROUND- If you are stuck outside and unable to get to shelter, DON’T stand under a tree. Standing under a tree puts you at a greater risk of getting struck by lightning, as lightning is always attracted to the tallest object it can find. DO get as low to the ground as you possibly can and stay there until the storm passes.
  4. STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE- It’s NOT the rubber tires of your vehicle that protect you from the vast majority of effects of a potential lightning strike, but rather the metal cage of the vehicle that does! A typical cloud-to-ground lightning strike (in this case, cloud-to car!) will either strike the antenna of the vehicle or along the roofline. The lightning will then pass through the vehicle’s outer metal shell, then through the tires to the ground. You’ll be a lot safer in the car than outside. I can’t quite promise you though that the car will remain intact!

AFTER SEVERE WEATHER STRIKES

  1. STAY INFORMED-Continue to stand by for alerts and stay updated about severe weather watches and warnings. More severe thunderstorms could be headed your way!
  2. STAY AWARE- After you are sure the severe weather threat has ended, check your property for damage. Dress accordingly to ready yourself to walk through storm damage. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants along with sturdy shoes are a good idea. Contact local authorities if you see power lines down and avoid being near them, as they may still be “live”. Stay out of damaged buildings. Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged.
  3. STAY IN TOUCH- Let your family and close friends know that you’re okay so they can help spread the word. Text messages or social media are more reliable forms of communication than phone calls. If you come across people that are injured and you are properly trained, if needed, provide first aid to victims until emergency response team members arrive.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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