Severe Weather Guide: Thunderstorms

Weather Blog

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Welcome to day three of Severe Weather Awareness Week. Let’s highlight thunderstorms.

Severe thunderstorms hold some value in regards to versatility, which in part, makes them some of the more frequent severe weather phenomena.

This versatility comes from multiple factors of danger; damaging wind, hail, and lightning. A severe thunderstorm has three different elements that can allow it to reach the severe threshold. So, during a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, the threat can be one of the factors, a combination of them, or all three.

Severe Thunderstorm Thresholds.

The damaging wind threshold is usually most frequent; winds gusting to 58-plus mph are no fun. Like back at the beginning of the month, on March 1, the line of severe thunderstorms didn’t have any hail or lightning but boasted damaging winds.

Hail, which is specific to the convective nature of a shower or thunderstorm, are the ice pellets that form from strong updrafts. Essentially, the thunderstorm is growing so strong that the rain falling from the cloud gets picked up and brought above the freezing line, forming an ice pellet. This cycle then repeats itself until the pellet is heavy enough to fall to the ground. Which more often than not, can cause damage.

Lightning can speak for itself. It’s one of the most dangerous weather phenomena out there, as it’s basically an explosion in the sky (and we hear that as thunder). One bolt of lightning is five times hotter than the surface of the sun. That’s over 50,000°F. So we’re serious when we say, “when thunder roars, head indoors.”

And to the weather geek like myself, a lot of this is interesting and appealing to the eye. So I don’t blame you if you get the urge to watch the storms roll through from the front porch. That’s how I caught the weather bug, doing so with my Grandpa Joe when I was a kid.

However, outside is not the place to be. With the versatility that comes with a severe thunderstorm, the dangers are real. So during times of a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, seek shelter and get away from windows.

Have a way to receive weather alerts on Thursday, we may be dealing with some of these impacts as the forecast is leaning toward a few severe thunderstorms.

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