Thunderstorms and Lightning
Every thunderstorm produces lightning.
All thunderstorms are dangerous. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. According to the NWS Storm Data, over the last 30 years (1989-2018) the U.S. has averaged 43 reported lightning fatalities per year.
Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – over 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.
Stay Safe During Thunderstorms & Lightning
If you are under a thunderstorm warning:
- When thunder roars, go indoors! Move from outdoors into a building or car with a roof.
- Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
- Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
- Avoid using electronic devices connected to an electrical outlet.
- Avoid running water.
- Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Do not drive through flooded roadways. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Stay Safe After Thunderstorms & Lightning
- Pay attention to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
- Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
- Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.
- Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
- Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
- Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.