Thunderstorms may include strong winds, lightning, hail, heavy rain, flash floods, downbursts, and even tornadoes.  Thunderstorms are dangerous.

Lightning from a storm can be fascinating to watch, but is also extremely dangerous.  Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm, but at that distance it may even be difficult to tell a storm is coming.  It is best to take shelter immediately if the sky looks threatening or if you see lightning or hear thunder.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch means severe thunderstorms are possible, continue activities and monitor the situation.


Severe Thunderstorm Warning means severe thunderstorms are imminent, capable of causing significant damage due to high winds, lightning or hail.

What to do during a thunderstorm warning (remember the 30-30 rule):

    • If there is less than 30 seconds between a flash of lightning and the sound of thunder, you need to seek shelter.  Or better yet, seek shelter on the first sign of thunder or lightning – better to be safe than sorry.
    • Remain under cover until 30 minutes after the final clap of thunder — don’t let the sunny skies fool you.


Here are some specific tips on how to protect yourself from the dangers associated with thunderstorms and lightning:

  1. If you plan to be outdoors, check the weather forecast and watch for signs of a storm.  Be prepared to take shelter; lightning may strike some miles from the parent cloud.
  2. If you are caught outside, do not stand under the tallest object in the landscape.  If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.  In open areas, go to a low place, such as a ravine or valley.
  3. Get off or away from open water, tractors, and other metal farm equipment or small metal vehicles.  Put down anything metal that you are holding and stay away from anything that is wire or metal.  If you are in a group in the open, stay several yards apart.
  4. If you are caught on a level field far from shelter, and you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike you.  Drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees.  Do not lie flat on the ground.
  5. At your residence, do not use the telephone except in emergencies.  Unplug unnecessary appliances.  Do not take a bath or shower.
  6. Prepare for a power outage by locating flashlights, a battery-operated radio, and batteries.  Stay tuned to your local radio station for more information about the storm.
  7. Consider any downed power lines as deadly dangerous — don’t go near them.  Report them immediately to Campus Security.