Emergency Management Office, 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069

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Severe Thunderstorms

Facts about Thunderstorms:

  • The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are occurring at any moment around the world -- 16 million a year.
  • All thunderstorms produce lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes. Lightning averages 93 deaths and 300 injuries a year, and causes several hundred million dollars in damage to property and forests annually.
  • Heavy rain from thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding. Strong winds, hail, and tornadoes are other dangers associated with some thunderstorms.
  • The National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm severe if it produces hail at least :-inch in diameter, wind 58 mph or higher, or tornadoes.
  • Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer months and during the afternoon and evening hours, but they can occur year-round and at all hours.

Know the terms:

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

Severe thunderstorms are likely to occur in your region. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather radio, AM/FM radio, or television for updated information.Watches are intended to heighten public awareness and should not be confused with warnings.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm. Take shelter immediately.

When Threatening Weather is Forecast:

  • Check the latest weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outdoors.
  • Watch for signs of approaching storms--thunderheads, darkening skies, lightning, increasing wind.
  • If a storm is approaching, stay tuned to a NOAA Weather radio, AM/FM radio, or television.
  • When a thunderstorm threatens, get inside a home, large building, or an sturdy, hardtop, all-metal automobile. Do not take shelter in small sheds, under isolated trees, or in convertible automobiles.
  • Get out of boats and away from open water. Do not take a bath or shower.
  • Telephone lines and metal pipes can conduct electricity. Get off or away from tractors and other metal farm equipment, or small metal vehicles such as motorcycles, bicycles, golf carts, etc. Use the telephone ONLY in an emergency.
  • Get on higher ground if flash flooding or flooding is possible. Once flooding begins, abandon cars and climb to higher ground. Most flash flood deaths occur in automobiles!
  • Remember: lightning may strike some miles from the parent cloud. You should take precautions even if the thunderstorm is not directly overhead.
  • If you are caught outside, DO NOT stand under a tall isolated tree or utility pole, and DO NOT stand on hilltops or anywhere that you are the tallest thing on the landscape. In a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a think growth of small trees. In open areas, go to a low place, such as a ravine or valley.
  • If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike you. squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Put your hands on your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground.

For more information on severe thunderstorms, contact the Oswego County Emergency Management Office at 315/591-9150.

Questions about Oswego County Emergency Management?