Severe Weather Awareness Week: Severe Thunderstorms

Last year there were 457 severe weather reports in Ohio. The majority of those, by far, was for wind damage. Hail and tornado reports make up the balance.

While everyone seems to freak out over tornadoes, wind damage should be a larger focus since it’s much more common and widespread. Wind can not only damage your property and cause injury, but it can also knock down trees and power lines.

WInd is wind. It matters little whether the wind that knocked that big tree in your front yard into your house was because of a tornado or straight-line winds from a severe thunderstorm. A 70 mph straight line gust from the storm has the same effect as an EF-0 tornado. The gust may also cover a larger area than a weak tornado which means that strong winds from a storm can actually cause more damage than a tornado.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS VS YOUR GARDEN VARIETY THUNDERSTORM

Not all thunderstorms are severe. We have many garden variety thunderstorms each year across the Valley. A few of those can become severe and that’s when we start to see some wind and hail potential.

But what constitutes a severe thunderstorm? Severe storms must meet certain requirements before they are considered severe.

We often know ahead of time when severe thunderstorms are likely to affect our area. Sometimes as much as three or four days. It’s the job of the Storm Prediction Center (a part of the National Weather Service) to monitor the country for severe weather. The SPC publishes detailed maps and outlooks regarding the possibilities for severe storms and the threats from those storms.

Severe weather threats are assigned categories as shown above. The most common category we experience here in the Valley is a Slight Risk. When the SPC issues a risk for our area, that’s your cue to start paying attention to the weather. Keeping informed about the threats allows you time to prepare and be ready when severe weather strikes.

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