The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 12, 2013

Thunderstorms can be dangerous, too

STAFF REPORT
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — A tornado might be the first scenario that comes to mind when talking about severe weather, but it’s not always the most dangerous.

According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, straight-line winds from thunderstorms can cause more than damage than nearly 75 percent of the tornadoes that occur in Illinois. And each year the state has an average of more than 500 reports of wind and hail damage as a result of storms.

Thunderstorm warnings are not a general reminder and, when issued, specifically indicate storms with winds clocked at more than 60 mph and/or hail measuring an inch or more are occurring or on their way.

Residents should always check weather forecasts before heading outdoors for extended periods. But if someone is caught outside in the line of approaching severe weather, the state EMA has several recommendations to follow:

Seek shelter immediately. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.

If you find yourself in a position where there is no immediate shelter available, find a low spot away from trees and power poles.

If you are driving, pull safely to the shoulder away from trees and power lines. Lightning can flash from trees or power poles and strike a vehicle. Rubber tires do not keep lightning from striking a vehicle. In the open, a vehicle is normally a safe shelter from lightning. Avoid touching metal parts of the vehicle when lightning is nearby.

Not being outside, however, does not completely protect someone from danger from a storm. There are several precautions state officials recommend to weather out a storm from inside a home.

Stay away from all windows and exterior doors during the storm. If you can do it safely, draw the window shades to reduce the risk from flying glass shattered by high winds.

Avoid using a corded telephone or other electrical appliances until the storm passes.

Turn off air conditioners. In the event of a lightning strike, a power surge could damage the compressor.

Delay taking baths or showers until after the storm passes due to the lightning threat.