In Gulf Coast and southern states the arrival of June marks the beginning of hurricane season. Threats from a different kind of storm provide an annual threat in Idaho – thunderstorms and lightning.
Recognizing the potential danger and preparing in advance can help prevent injuries and possible death, according to the Ada City-County Emergency Management (ACCEM) office. Being prepared for thunderstorms and lighting means knowing what to do before, during and after one occurs, according to an emergency management bulletin.
“Thunderstorms are intense storms that can bring strong winds, hail, lightening, heavy rain (which can cause flash floods), and tornadoes. The typical thunderstorm is approximately 15 miles in diameter and lasts 30 minutes.”
June through August is the peak period for thunderstorms and lightning. Idaho averages one death and eight injuries a year because of thunderstorms, ranking sixth in the nation for per capita lightning deaths.
“A thunderstorm is always accompanied by lightning,” the bulletin indicates. “Across the United States, dozens of school children are killed or injured by lightning during outdoor extracurricular activities, on their way to or from school or during recess… “
To estimate the number of miles from an approaching thunderstorm, count the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder and then divide by five. The result is the distance in miles away from the storm.
“You are in danger from lightning any time you can hear thunder. Knowing how far away a storm is does not mean that you’re in danger only when the storm is overhead.”
For more information about preparing for thunderstorms and precautions to take during a storm, please download the Emergency Preparedness flyer, provided by Ada City-County Emergency Management.