The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) defines a severe thunderstorm watch as “an area where an organized episode of hail one inch in diameter or larger and/or damaging thunderstorm winds are expected during a three to eight hour period.” After a watch is issued it is up to the National Weather Service (NWS) to upgrade the watch to a warning, though a warning can be issued without a watch already being in effect. A severe thunderstorm warning means that a thunderstorm producing hail one inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceeding 58 mph has been observed either on radar or by weather spotters.
It is important to take necessary actions to remain safe in a thunderstorm, as they can also produce tornadoes and flash flooding without warning. Keep in mind the following:
• If you see lightning outdoors and cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder, get indoors immediately.
• Once inside, close windows and blinds.
• Avoid turning on faucets, as bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
• Make sure to remain indoors for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last rumble of thunder.
• If you cannot get inside during a thunderstorm stay away from single tall trees, open fields, and isolated structures.
Just because a watch is issued does not always mean that it will be upgraded to a warning, but it is important to remember the above safety measures. Now that thunderstorm season is upon us, make sure to stay updated on current conditions.
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