April - Weather Tips: Lightning and Hail
Weather Tips: Lightning and Hail
The time is getting close for us to start experiencing the threat and reality of the spring thunderstorms with lots of rain at times and with lightning and hail mixed in with it.
The National Weather Service furnishes many facts concerning weather conditions. I bet you didn't know (neither did I until I started reading about) that:
- Large hailstones can fall as fast as 100 miles per hour.
- Hailstones have been collected that contain leaves, twigs, rocks, nuts, and insects.
- The largest hailstones observed in the United State fell in 1970. They measured 5.6 inches in diameter and weighed almost 2 pounds.
- Hail causes $1 billion dollars in property and crop damages each year.
- The most costly hailstorm in the United States happened in Denver Colorado on July 11, 1990. The total damage was $625 million dollars.
Precipitation falling in the forms of ice balls or irregular lumps is hail, pure and simple. Hailstones can form around raindrops or ice crystals that are carried in a thunderstorm and freeze.
Most hailstones form onion-like layers by being bounced up and down in the turbulence of thunderclouds. Some grow while being balanced in an updraft and are solid with little or no layering. As the stones gain in weight and size and can't be supported by the updraft, then they fall to the ground.
The stronger the thunderstorm's updraft, the larger the stone may grow before falling. Hailstones can range in size from the size of a pea to a softball and can measure from about 1/4 inch to 5 inches in diameter.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors during thunderstorms. Thunder is the result of air being heated to extreme temperatures (15,000 to 60,000 degrees) as a result of a lightning strike.
If you get caught outdoors during a thunderstorm and cannot get to shelter, find a low spot away from trees, bushes, and poles. If you get caught in the woods during a thunderstorm, take shelter under the shortest trees that you can find. Do not lay flat.
Make your body the smallest possible target and minimize your contact with the ground by squatting low to the ground on the balls of your feet, placing your head between your knees, and putting your hands on your knees.
FACTS ABOUT LIGHTNING:
- The NOAA rates lightning the number two cause of weather-related deaths in the US, killing approximately 100 people annually and injuring another 500. (Floods and flash floods are number one.)
- More than 50% of lightning deaths occur after the thunderstorm has passed.
- Lightning can occur in clear skies and at greater distances than 10 miles from the actual thunderstorm.
- Lightning can strike a person in contact with an electric appliance, telephone, or plumbing fixtures by traveling through the power or telephone lines or plumbing pipes.
DON'T LEARN SAFETY BY ACCIDENT!!
BE ALERT-BE AWARE-BE ALIVE!