Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #56: Severe Weather Facts

It's Severe Weather Awareness Week here in Wisconsin, so here are a few facts about severe storms, and tips for dealing with them.

1. Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms and can strike 10 miles from the storm, even where the sky is clear. Lightning strikes the Earth 20 million times each year, and there are 1,800 thunderstorms in progress at any given time on Earth.

2. Lightning causes an average of 80 fatalities and 300 injuries each year. Tornadoes cause 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries nationwide.

3. The energy from one lightning flash could light a 100-watt light bulb for more than three months. Imagine what that amount of voltage can do to your electronics. This is why you should unplug appliances and stay off the phone during a severe thunderstorm.

4. A WATCH means that conditions are right for a severe thunderstorm or tornado to develop; a WARNING means that lightning or a funnel has been spotted, or that Doppler radar indicates a cell likely to produce severe storms.

5. Closing blinds or curtains when a watch is issued can minimize shattered glass from flying debris in the event that a severe storm does develop. Stay away from glass-enclosed areas during a tornado warning, or places such as auditoriums or warehouses with wide-span roofs.

6. When a tornado warning is issued, you should immediately go to a basement, or to an interior room away from outside walls on the lowest level, such as a closet or bathroom. Keep a flashlight and battery-powered radio handy for such emergencies.

7. Most deaths during tornadoes occur in cars and mobile homes—abandon them immediately and seek shelter in a secure building. Avoid overpasses or ditches if possible as they provide little protection against a twister.

8. If there is nowhere else to go during a tornado, lie flat in a ditch or depression away from buildings, and cover your head to protect it from falling debris.

9. Unlike tornadoes, if caught outside during a severe thunderstorm you should squat and protect your head; do not lie flat as that will make you a larger target. If you are on water, get to land immediately as water is a natural conduit. If you are in the woods, seek shelter under shorter trees as lightning is more likely to strike taller ones. Low-lying areas away from water, trees, and metal are safest.

10. Tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, but are found most frequently in the United States, with more than 1000 reported annually. Canada is a distant second with 100 tornadoes annually. Wisconsin has an average 25 tornadoes a year. There were 17 in 2007, 13 in 2006 and 62 in 2005. One of the scariest events was the tornado outbreak of Aug 18, 2005, when 27 confirmed tornadoes swept across Southern Wisconsin in one evening. I blogged about that here.

11. Tornadoes can produce winds in excess of 250 mph. They can be more than a mile wide and stay on the ground for more than 50 miles. Most twisters occur between 3 and 9 p.m., but can happen at any time and, though they can move in any direction, generally move southwest to northeast.

12. Contrary to popular belief, areas near lakes, rivers and mountains are just as likely to experience tornadoes as flat, open spaces. Waterspouts are tornadoes which form over warm water.

13. Signs of a Tornado: Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base; whirling dust or debris on the ground close to cloud base; hail or heavy rain followed by a dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift; loud, continuous roar or rumble.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens:

Nina Pierce * Kaige * Adelle Laudan
Tempest Knight * RG Alexander * Shelley Munro
Alice Audrey * Jennifer McKenzie * Darla
Ms Menozzi * December * Debora Dennis
Robin Rotham * Jenna Bayley-Burke * Morgan St John
Gina Ardito * Imogen Howson * Debbie Mumford
AJ Chase * Paige Tyler * Dana Belfry
Chloe Devlin * Leigh Ellwood * Savannah Chase

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Shelley Munro said...

Interesting facts. I hate lightning and thunder storms. We had some this week.

Adelle said...

I guess I can definitely scratch Wisconsin off of my list of places I might want to live LOL Crazy! Very kewl list, Shelly.
Happy T13!

Adelle said...

Crap, I meant to say HEATHER lol I must have been looking up at the previous post. Sorry! Need more coffee.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I love these posts!!! This is some cool facts.

Darla said...

When I was growing up in Michigan, we used to have tornado drills in school--go into an interior hallway and sit cross-legged with your head down and your arms over your head.

Tornadoes are rare here in Germany, but there are storms, and they're expecting them to increase with the climate change--so they've started cutting down all the trees within 10 meters of highways. So now they have erosion and landslides instead of tree limbs on the highways after storms. *sigh*

Ms Menozzi said...

Um... Thanks? LOL!

You've touched upon some of my nightmare material - tornadoes freak me out!

Still, this post was full of interesting facts. Thanks for sharing them. :)

Happy T13

R.G. ALEXANDER said...

Very cool facts. As long as I have a lot of candles and my hubby nearby-I love thunder storms. Just not while I'm on the computer lol
No tornadoes though *shudder*

Debora said...

Storms and lightning just scare the pants off me. Thanks for the tips! :)

December said...

Hey - I'm in Wisconsin too!! its been warm and lovely lately WAHOOO!!!
Spring MIGHT be here...

Heather said...

Shelley~ I love storms, though intense lightning does freak me out a bit. Especially if caught outside in it. *shiver*

Adelle~ ROFL...likely story! Seriously, we don't get that many tornadoes and excellent warning sirens throughout most of the state. The 62 tornadoes in 2005 was an annomoly.

Thanks Jennifer!

Darla~ Yup, they still do that here. In fact, there is supposed to be a state-wide drill this afternoon, provided the storms moving in don't postpone it. As for Germany ripping out all the trees...DUH! You'd think they would have considered erosion. Oh wait, we're talking about government. lol

Heather said...

Ms Menozzi~ Quite welcome, LOL. Tornadoes can be freaky, but at least there's usually some advance warning. Unlike the earthquakes felt throughout the Midwest last week.

RG~ Exactly! Nothing more irksome than just firing up the computer and having to power down right away because a severe storm has moved in. I'm hoping the more severe storms pass us by this afternoon. We really don't need any more rain right now...

Debora~ As already mentioned, I love storms, but it's the wicked lightning and tornado watches that start to freak me. Yet at the same time, all that electricity in the air can be exhilerating. Weird, I know.

Hi December! Hasn't the weather this week been beautiful? Finally and well-deserved I say, especially after the winter we had! Thanks for visiting!

imogen howson said...

Ooh. We pretty much don't have tornadoes in the UK, so I'm horrified and fascinated by the mere idea!

Bethanne said...

#5. I never thought of that. Good idea. :D thanks for sharing.

Heather said...

Immi~ Lucky! Some years we have a micher higher level of activity, then there will be years when there's so little that people become dangerously complacent. Though I think it would be kind of cool to see one at a distance, I'm not nearly foolish enough to risk the chance when the sirens sound.

Morgan~ Thank you, and you're welcome. Between the earthquake and the storms, you've had quite a welcoming to the Midwest this past month haven't you? I swear summers are worth it!

Gina Ardito said...

Wow! That's some scary stuff. Thanks for the info.

Alice Audrey said...

We get dust devils, but a full-blown tornado? There's a reason this area isn't part of Tornado Alley and Wisconsin is.

Dana Belfry said...

You seriously have the most fascinating blogs. THANKS! I learned a LOT! :)

Chloe Devlin said...

I remember tornado drills in grade school, too.

I don't mind thunderstorms even with lightning if I'm indoors, snuggled up in bed.


Heather said...

Gina~ Severe storms can definitely be scary! Thanks for stopping by!

Alice~ We're not actually part of Tornado Alley, but we do seem to see our share some years.

Dana~ Aw, shucks...thank you! *VBG*

Chloe~ Snuggled up in bed is definitely the best place to listen to a passing thunderstorm. The soft rumblings can almost always lull me to sleep!

Robin L. Rotham said...

I love a good storm (when there are no crops in the field), but I do take watches and warnings very seriously. When there's a tornado watch, I make all the kids sleep in the basement, rather than upstairs. (Yeah, there are two bedrooms down there.)

Debbie Mumford said...

Great information! I grew up in OK...tornado warnings were a fact of life.

Kathleen Oxley said...

Yikes! I live in Atlanta, really close to where the tornadoes just hit in March. I was actually out of town when it happened - but I certaintly wouldn't have known what to do. I've never lived anywhere where tornadoes are an issue.

Stay safe!!

Heather said...

Robin~ Definitely better to sleep in the basement where it's relatively safer during a watch than upstairs.

Debbie & Kat~ Thanks for visiting! We actually had severe t-storms overnight (woke me up about 1:15am), but thankfully no tornado watches or warnings yet this year.

Gwen Mitchell said...

YIKES! Tornadoes do not sound like fun. That is all good stuff to know, though. Thanks Heather!