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What are Straight-Line Winds?

Straight-Line Winds
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Straight-line winds is used to describe ground-level winds that come out of a thunderstorm and do not have rotation. When winds travel at speeds exceeding 57 mph, the storm is classified as a severe thunderstorm. Storms with severe straight-line winds can also have hail and tornadoes.

The lack of rotation in straight-line winds allows meteorologists to differentiate damage from tornado winds. Tornadoes scatter objects all over because they rotate so quickly. Straight-line winds can be hazardous as they can push over objects that land on top of people, causing injury and death.

Warnings of possible high winds should be taken seriously and you should have a emergency plan in place. Here is a good list to follow:
* Keep your cell phone charged ahead of the storm.
* Check batteries in flashlights and weather radios. Straight-line winds can blow trees onto power lines and result in widespread power outages.
* Stay away from all windows and doors during the storm. If you can do it safely, draw the window shades or blinds to reduce the risk from flying glass shattered by high winds.
* Bring anything inside that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture, etc.).
* Avoid using a corded telephone or other electrical appliances until the storm passes
* Monitor the radio, television or Internet for the latest weather information.

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