Severe thunderstorms produce lightning, tornadoes, strong straight-line winds, heavy rain with flash floods, and hail. Be aware of the weather conditions and know what to look for in severe thunderstorm development and be prepared before severe weather is a threat by visiting the Preparedness Guide from the National Weather Service.
- Know the difference between Watches and Warnings (NWS definitions).
- Tornado Watch (issued by the NWS Storm Prediction Center): Weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes. A watch can cover a part of a state or several states, depending on the conditions and can last for 4 to 8 hours.
- Tornado Warning (issued by your local NWS office): Tornado has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. There is serious threat to life and property to those in the path of the tornado. Act now to find safe shelter. A warning can cover a part of a county or several counties and are usually issued for 30 minutes or so.
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch (issued by the NWS Storm Prediction Center): Weather conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorm development - by definition - a severe thunderstorm is a thunderstorm that produces one inch hail or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour. A watch can cover part of a state or several states and are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather.
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning (issued by your local NWS office): Severe thunderstorm is indicated by radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail one inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour. People in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. They are usually issued for a duration of one hour. They can be issued without a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being already in effect.
- Monitor sky conditions:
- Dark or greenish looking sky
- Large hail
- Dark, rotating cloud
- Loud roar (a sound like a freight train implies tornado is approaching)Learn about how storm spotters use AcuRite to help them stay ahead of the storm to keep the rest of us aware and safe.
If you experience any of these signs, seek shelter immediately. A good rule of thumb is Get Away, Get Shelter, and Get Low: Get away from any tall or large objects, get shelter by finding a sturdy structure, and get low by going to the lowest level of the building. If outside, get as low as you can in a low ditch and do not seek shelter under an overpass. For more examples of what to do if a tornado producing thunderstorm is near, please visit Weather Underground’s Tornado Safety Infographic.
Be prepared early in the season to help keep your family safe during severe storm development this spring and summer. Read more here to learn how the AcuRite 5-in-1 professional weather stations help the Midwest Storm Spotters League.