Tornadoes: Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they are found most frequently in the United States.
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground.
Tornadoes cause an average of 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries in the U.S. each year.
The strongest tornadoes have rotating winds of more than 250 mph.
Tornadoes can be one mile wide and stay on the ground over 50 miles.
Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms within the funnel. The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
The average forward speed is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.
Waterspouts are tornadoes which form over warm water. They can move onshore and cause damage to coastal areas.
Tornado Watch: Conditions are conducive to the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.
Lightning: Causes an average of about 60 fatalities and 300 injuries each year.
Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms; each year lightning strikes the United States 25 million times.
The energy from one lightning flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than 3 months.
Most lightning fatalities and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
Lightning can occur from cloud-to-cloud, within a cloud, cloud-to-ground, or cloud-to-air.
Many fires in the western United States and Alaska are started by lightning.
The air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000°F--hotter than the surface of the sun!
The rapid heating and cooling of the air near the lightning channel causes a shock wave that results in thunder.
Severe thunderstorm watch: Conditions are conducive to the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area.
Severe thunderstorm warning: A severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! - NWS lightning safety site helps you learn more about lightning risks and how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your belongings. The site offers a comprehensive page of handouts, brochures, links and more.
Straight-line Winds: line winds are responsible for most thunderstorm wind damage.
Winds can exceed 100 mph!
One type of straight-line wind, the downburst, is a small area of rapidly descending air beneath a thunderstorm
A downburst can cause damage equivalent to a strong tornado and can be extremely dangerous to aviation.
A “dry microburst” is a downburst that occurs with little or no rain. These destructive winds are most common in the western United States.
Hail: Strong rising currents of air within a storm, called updrafts, carry water droplets to a height where freezing occurs.
Ice particles grow in size, becoming too heavy to be supported by the updraft, and fall to the ground.
Causes more than $1 billion in damage to property and crops each year.
Large stones fall at speeds faster than 100 mph