Thunderstorms and Lightning


Thunderstorms are small intense weather that make strong winds, heavy rain, lightning, and thunder. Thunder is the sound caused by lightning and can cause power outages. Thunderstorms can lead to flash floods. It must be warm and moist for a thunderstorm to occur. Thunderstorms rarely happen in cold weather but if they do occur, they are called “thundersnow”. Lightning can electrocute people or lead to fire. One hundred lightning bolts hit the earth every second.

Deadliest in World History:

• Occurred in Egypt in 1944

• Flash of lightning caused three oil tanks to collapse, which then caught fire that spread to a village

• 500 people died

Deadliest in U.S. History:

• Occurred in 1969 in Ohio

• Thunderstorms with winds over 100 miles per hour and heavy rain

• Produced flash flooding

• Killed over 40 people, and injured 600 people

• Caused $66 million dollars in damage


• Go inside if you hear thunder or lightning.

• Count the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the sound of thunder. Divide the number of seconds by five to know how many miles away the thunder is

• 5 seconds=1 mile, 15 seconds=3 miles, 0 seconds=very close!

• Have flashlights and candles handy in case the power goes out. Make sure all phones are charged.


• Stay inside:

• Don’t use anything that is connected to a plug for fear of electrocution

• Don’t use water (shower, bath, wash hands)

• Stay away from doors and windows

• If outside:

• Don’t touch anything metal

• Don’t stand near anything tall like trees or flagpoles that can get struck by lightning

• Stay away from open fields, hills, and beaches

• Avoid bodies of water

• Stay away from tents

• Get in your car if you cannot get indoors

• Find a low spot if you cannot get indoors or get to your car


• Stay away from downed power lines, damaged trees, and flood waters


Flash flood: rapid flooding of water

Electrocute: shock of electricity through your body that can injure or kill you

Source: FEMA: