GEORGIA (WTOC) - Severe Weather Awareness Week continues through Friday. On Tuesday, the First Alert forecast team is focusing on thunderstorm safety.
A thunderstorm is classified as severe if it produces winds – gust or sustained – greater than 58 MPH or hail equal to or larger than the size of quarters. Severe thunderstorms also occasionally produce tornadoes.
If conditions are favorable for multiple severe thunderstorms, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued by the National Weather Service. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued when severe weather is imminent or occurring.
However, a thunderstorm doesn't have to be severe to pose a risk to life and property.
On average, cloud-to-ground lightning struck nearly 300 people annually between 2007 and 2016. An average of 30 people died annually, per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Florida had the greatest number of lightning strike fatalities last year.
Lightning can strike many miles outside of an active thunderstorm, even where the sun is shining and rain is not falling. The vigorous thunderstorms that impact our area every summer often produce vivid lightning, with strikes occasionally occurring as much as 10 miles away from the storm.
"When thunder roars, move indoors"
Once inside, do not lean against windows or touch any object that can transport an electrical current in the event your home is struck by lightning.
Rain, including in the form of thunderstorms, is absolutely crucial to our local environment. However, we must respect the power that these storms possess and take proper precautions when impacted by severe winds, hail, heavy rain or any other form of severe weather.
The WTOC Weather App features lightning and precipitation alerts in addition to severe weather notifications. You can download the app by searching "wtoc" in your App or Google Play store.