A severe thunderstorm watch is issued by the National Weather Service whenever weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, respectively, in and close to the watch area. A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm is detected by radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing at least 1-inch hail or 58 mph winds.
If you are caught outdoors in a severe thunderstorm or when lightning threatens:
1. Immediately seek shelter in a substantial building.
a. DO NOT seek shelter under trees during thunderstorms.
b. DO NOT seek shelter in unprotected open structures such as picnic pavilions, rain shelters or bus stops.
c. If a substantial building is not available, a metal-topped vehicle with the windows up is your next best choice.
2. Avoid contact with metal fences, metal bleachers, or metallic structures.
3. Avoid using the telephone or any electrical appliances. Use phones ONLY in an emergency.
4. Do not take a bath or shower during a thunderstorm.
5. Wait 15 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder before leaving the safe location.
If Caught Outdoors and No Shelter Is Nearby:
1. Find a low spot away from trees, fences, and poles that is not subject to flooding.
2. If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie down. If you are swimming, get out of the water immediately.REMEMBER: If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
Once you have taken shelter indoors, you should monitor a weather radio, commercial radio/television station, internet or other weather service provider. Even when a specific storm cell has passed beyond the area, conditions may still be right for high winds, lightning, and other hazardous weather conditions.