Whether you are on the ball field, the golf course, or in a pool, a darkened sky and rumbling thunder are clear signals to suspend play and get to shelter immediately. It could save your life!
Virginia averages 35 to 45 thunderstorm days a year. Thunderstorms can occur any day of the year and at any time of the day, but are most common in the late afternoon and evenings during the summer months. About five percent of thunderstorms become severe and are capable of producing tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds, and heavy rains causing flash flooding. Severe thunderstorms can develop in less than 30 minutes, allowing little time for warning. To alert the public about possible severe thunderstorms, the National Weather Service issues watches and warnings.
What Makes Thunderstorms Severe
- Hail greater than three-quarters of an inch
- Winds greater than 58 miles per hour
Be Familiar with the Terminology
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
A severe thunderstorm watch means that the conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms. If a watch is broadcast, stay tuned for further information and possible warnings and be prepared to take cover.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
A severe thunderstorm warning means conditions are occurring or imminent. Warnings are issued for individual counties and include the severe thunderstorm’s location, direction, and speed. If you are in the path of the severe thunderstorm, seek shelter immediately.