Thunderstorms & Lightning
Florida is known for its thunderstorms. In fact, Florida has more thunderstorms and lightning strikes each year than anywhere else in the nation. Unfortunately, Florida also leads the nation in deaths and injuries from lightning. Florida averages more than 10 deaths and 30 severe injuries each year. Approximately 50 percent of the deaths and injuries occur during recreational activities, with 40 percent of those being water related. The main hazards that thunderstorms produce are dangerous hail, tornadoes, and lightning.
Thunderstorms are very unpredictable and can pop up at any time here in Southwest Florida. Also, remember that tornadoes can form in areas of severe development.
- When thunder roars, go indoors!
- Move from outdoors into a building or car.
- Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
- Unplug appliances.
- Do not use landline phones.
- Never touch downed power lines.
A tornado is a violent whirlwind that usually develops in association with a severe thunderstorm. The winds in a tornado can exceed those measured in the most intense hurricanes. Wind speeds in an intense tornado are likely to rise above 200 miles per hour. These violent winds are what make tornadoes so deadly - they can uproot and snap trees, down power lines, move or pick up cars and trucks, and destroy homes. The paths of tornadoes can be very short, or they can extend for many miles. Not surprisingly, tornado ground speeds range from nearly stationary to over 50 miles per hour.
You should be familiar with the following terms:
- Tornado watch: Conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes. Be aware of changing weather conditions.
- Tornado warning: A tornado has been sighted in your area. Take shelter immediately.
- Tornado: A violent, whirling, funnel-shaped cloud that touches the ground.
- Funnel Cloud: A violent, whirling, funnel-shaped cloud that does not touch the ground. Many people mistakenly call these tornadoes.
- Waterspout: A tornado over water.
- Sign up with Alert Charlotte to Receive Tornado Watch information.
- Stay tuned to local radio or your NOAA weather radio.
- Secure any loose objects outdoors, or move them inside.
- Survey local structures for the most suitable shelter.
- Keep watching the sky. If you see any funnel shaped clouds. Report them immediately to the nearest law enforcement agency or emergency management.
Take shelter immediately!
- If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.
- Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar.
- If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
- Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
- Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- If you are in a manufactured home seek other shelter immediately. Do not get under your mobile home. Lie in a ditch or other ground depression if all else fails.