thunder won't hurt you - lightning will! So it's important to pay
attention when you hear thunder. Thunderstorms happen in every state
and every thunderstorm has lightning. Lightning can strike people
and buildings and is very dangerous.
Thunderstorms affect small areas when compared with hurricanes
and winter storms. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter
and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are
happening at any moment around the world.
their small size, all thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm
produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes.
Heavy rain from thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding. Strong
winds, hail, and tornadoes are also dangers associated with some
thunderstorms. You can estimate how many miles away a storm is by
counting the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and
the clap of thunder. Divide the number of seconds by five to get
the distance in miles. The lightning is seen before the thunder
is heard because light travels faster than sound. (Of course, get
safe shelter first, before you take the time to count the seconds!)
Thunderstorms need three things:
- Moisture - to form clouds and rain.
- Unstable Air - relatively warm air that can rise rapidly.
- Lift - fronts, sea breezes and mountains are capable of lifting
air to help form thunderstorms.
are most likely to occur in the spring and summer months and during
the afternoon and evening hours but they can occur year-round and
at all hours of the day or night. Along the Gulf Coast and across
the southeastern and western states, most thunderstorms occur during
the afternoon. Thunderstorms often occur in the late afternoon and
at night in the Plains states. Thunder and lightning can sometimes
even come with snowstorm! During the blizzard of March 1993, lightning
resulted in power outages near Washington, D.C.