Severe Weather Awareness Week-2

The threat of severe thunderstorms has diminished today. There was one warning issued earlier this afternoon in Fentress County.  The Double Tree community picked up dime to nickel size hair. The rain is moving east now.  Colder air will follow.  More rain is in the forecast for Thursday but no thunderstorms are for the next 7 days.  But it is the first day of March, the beginning of severe weather.  So all this week, I’ll be highlighting some of the things we’ll be facing in the days to come. Today’s highlight is lightning.


It is the underrated killer. In 2015 26 people died from lightning strikes in the United States.  This is the second lowest yearly lightning death toll; only 2013 had fewer deaths with 23. The chart shows how the death toll has declined since 2000.

 LS Lightning graph 1

Lightning can strike people in five different ways: direct strike, side flash, ground current, conduction and streamers.  To see more about each click here.

Basically, lightning is a giant spark of electricity in the sky. That spark is so hot that it heats the air around it.  The air expands and the booming sound it makes is thunder.  Check out this  fun series of animations that show you more about the science of lightning, click here.

LS lightning 2

Here’s some of the things to keep in mind when in comes to lightning in thunderstorms as compiled by the National Weather Service.

Lightning: What You Need to Know

  • NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.


Indoor Lightning Safety

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

As dangerous as lightning is, it is not used to classify whether a thunderstorm is severe. You can read about what is used to determine a severe thunderstorm in my blog from yesterday, Severe Weather Awareness Week – 1.

Tornadoes will be the topic tomorrow in my #4WARN blog.

Lisa Spencer

posted 5:50 PM

About Lisa Spencer

Lisa Spencer is the chief meteorologist at WSMV Channel 4 Nashville. You can catch her weathercasts weekdays at 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 6:30pm and 10pm.
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