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What is a Severe Thunderstorm?

Severe Thunderstorm

Severe thunderstorms are some of the most unpredictable weather we receive in Alabama. A storm can pop up out of no where and catch you off guard. To help you prepare for those uncertain situations, we want to provide you with the most important information about these storms.

First, let’s understand what they are. The action of warm air rising and cold air sinking plays a key role in the formation of severe thunderstorms. Super cell thunderstorms occur when very strong updrafts are balanced by downdrafts which can sustain the storm for a long period of time. In a super cell, a moist, unstable body of warm air may be forced to rise by an approaching cold front.

The biggest danger associated with severe thunderstorm is lightening. If you can hear thunder, you’re in danger of being struck by lightening. Another indication that lighting is about to strike is if you can feel your hair stand on end

Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe if a severe thunderstorm is approaching.

If you’re inside:

-Close windows and doors and keep away from windows, doors and fireplaces. Don’t go outside unless it is absolutely necessary.
-Before storm hits unplug appliances including radio, television and computers and do not touch electrical items or telephones during the storm.
-Do not take a bath (both water and metal are electrical conductors).

If you’re outside:

-If you’re boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
-Take shelter in permanent enclosed structures and avoid unprotected gazebos, rain or picnic shelters, baseball dugouts and bleachers.
-If adequate shelter isn’t available seek a car, truck or other hard-topped vehicle and keep the windows closed. Contrary to the popular myth, rubber tires provide no protection from lightning, If lightning does strike your car you may suffer injury but you’re much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
-Never stand under a large tree in the open and be aware of possible flooding in low-lying areas.
-Have as little contact with the ground as possible and try to make yourself the smallest target possible. Squat low to the ground, and cover your head but don’t lie flat. That makes you a larger target.
-Avoid tall structures, such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines and power lines. Stay away from lightning rods, golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles and camping equipment.

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