Thunderstorms can be terrifying and really send a shiver up your spine, literally. They are present in many horror films and are enough to have many trembling and scared.
In this post, we’re going to answer a question we find many of our readers asking: Are thunderstorms dangerous?
In short, they certainly can be. Thunderstorms are often accompanied by lightning, which when it strikes can be deadly and incredibly destructive.
Let’s take a closer look…
Are Thunderstorms Actually Dangerous?
Although thunderstorms can be mesmerizing and impressive, you should not forget that they can be extremely dangerous.
There are around 2,000 active thunderstorms at any given time around the globe, ranging from mild, short-lived storms to large and destructive storms.
Thunderstorms can form incredibly quickly, and many find themselves caught out by them and end up in dangerous situations.
If you are not aware of how to protect yourself from a thunderstorm, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
Although being struck by lightning directly is incredibly rare, at around 1 in 500,000. Lightning still strikes buildings, trees, and other structures which can cause harm and destruction.
Large thunderstorms often bring with them extreme weather, such as floods, high winds, tornadoes, and hailstones.
Getting yourself to a safe place is crucial when a thunderstorm hits, as lightning is usually the storm’s most powerful weapon.
What Are The Dangers Of Thunderstorms?
There are many dangers to be aware of when it comes to thunderstorms, which is why it’s important to educate yourself on how to stay safe and out of harm’s way.
Thunderstorms can bring unexpected dangers, aside from heavy rain and winds.
Lightning-induced wildfires are fires that are brought on by lightning striking forest areas that can catch fire easily.
Below are some of the dangers and hazards to be aware of during a thunderstorm:
- High-winds / tornadoes
- Property damage
- Heavy rain
- Electrical malfunctions
The Different Types Of Thunderstorms
Not all thunderstorms are created equal, some are much more powerful than others and can be much more dangerous.
Whilst some thunderstorms are short-lived and pose minimal risk, some can be deadly if you do not protect yourself against them.
The single-cell thunderstorm, also known as a “pulse storm” is usually a small, brief storm that lasts no longer than an hour.
These storms are often present in the summer months when temperatures change.
A single-cell storm consists of a short-lived updraft of rising moist air that is soon cut off by the rain falling down into the updraft.
Single-cell storms typically bring with them heavy rain, winds, and lightning, but are often non-severe.
The multi-cell storm is also another common type of thunderstorm. It is usually a combination of multiple storms, meaning it’s slightly more powerful than a single-cell storm.
Each storm typically lasts between 30 – 60 minutes, but the system as a whole may last for hours.
These storms usually bring with them high winds, hail, flooding, and brief tornadoes. They are also usually non-severe storms.
The Squall Line
Squall line storms are a group of storms that are all in a line. They are often accompanied by high winds, hail, and flooding.
These storms are less prone to produce tornadoes than supercell storms. That said they can be hundreds of miles long and 10 – 20 miles wide.
They produce winds of up to 50mph and tend to lead to flooding because of their structure.
A supercell storm is the most powerful and dangerous of all thunderstorms.
These storms typically last much longer than the previous (over 1 hour), they are highly organized storms that feed off an updraft that is tilted and rotating.
They can be as large as 10 miles in diameter and up to 50,000 feet in height.
Supercell storms are violent storms that can bring with them tornados, flooding, hail, and very destructive gusts of wind.
They are known to bring almost all types of extreme weather and can cause lots of damage to towns and cities.
How To Stay Safe In A Thunderstorm
Understanding each type of thunderstorm is a great way to protect yourself against them. If you know a supercell from a single cell, then you’re already ahead of the pack.
Common sense will take you a long way when it comes to thunderstorms. The first thing you will want to do is ensure you and indoors and safe.
Ideally in your home, do not seek shelter in a bus stand or any other type of outdoor shelter, these are not protective and will not stop you from a lightning strike.
Bringing yourself down from any elevated areas is also crucial, if you’re walking your dog in the hills, you should come down immediately and get indoors.
If you happen to be near any ponds, lakes, or rivers, you should get away from them, as these are common spots where lightning can strike.
Ensure that you are away from anything that could be seen as a lightning rod, this could be trees, lamp posts, or radio towers.
The safest place that most people can be during a thunderstorm is in their home, but if you’re driving and a thunderstorm hits, you should pull over immediately and put your hazard lights on until the rain stops.
If you do decide to keep driving, ensure you don’t touch any metal around the car, this is because if lightning does strike it will act as a metal box that will prevent electricity from getting to you.
Try to get yourself home, and ensure that all of your electronic devices are switched off at the wall and are unplugged.
Leaving laptops, computers, and expensive TVs on at the socket can cause them to fry and break if lightning does strike.
Once you’re home and everything is unplugged, bring out a board game for you and your family to play to keep yourselves entertained until the storm passes.
You should also ensure that any pets you have are safe, dogs can become extremely frightened in thunderstorms so it’s important you comfort them and keep them close.
Remember – No place outside is safe in a thunderstorm, seek shelter immediately but be safe and don’t panic.
What Not To Do In A Thunderstorm
When a thunderstorm hits, there are a couple of things that you do not want to do and should never be done.
Being aware of these will give you the best chance of staying safe and keeping your family safe in the event of a violent thunderstorm.
- Do NOT take a shower or bath
- Do NOT use a landline
- Do NOT leave pets outside
- Do NOT open your windows
- Do NOT keep electronics plugged in
- Do NOT touch concrete structures
- Do NOT wash dishes
So, are thunderstorms dangerous? Yes, they certainly can be.
If you are not aware of how to protect yourself and stay safe during a thunderstorm, you could be in a lot of trouble.
Ensuring you’re indoors away from the storm and not touching any electronics is key, along with following the advice I have set out above.
Hopefully, this post has been insightful into thunderstorms and you’ve learned a thing or two about the different types of storms.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and if you want to learn more about storms, feel free to stick around, we have tons of useful posts that you will find interesting on this blog.
Hey, I’m Sam – the founder of GustyPlanet. I’ve had a fascination with all things weather for as long as I can remember. I witnessed my first tornado at the age of 6, and since then became an avid storm chaser that is hooked on learning as much as I can about extreme weather. This blog was created to share my knowledge and to expand and delve deeper into the wonderful world of weather phenomena. I hope you enjoy your stay here and thanks for visiting.