How to Deal with Grumpy Weather

Flood resulting from Hurricane Ivan.
Flood resulting from Hurricane.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Thunderstorms, tornadoes, lightning, flash floods and damaging winds are noisy, difficult to handle, and full of energy…it’s the weather throwing a tantrum! We can’t stop these tantrums, but NOAA is working hard to figure out better ways to let you know they are coming!

Fast Facts

Thunderstorms are typically about 15 miles in diameter and last an average of 30 minutes. Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms that occur each year in the United States, about 10 percent are classified as severe. A severe thunderstorm has one or more of the following:  winds of 58 mph or more, hail ¾” in diameter or larger, a funnel cloud or tornado.

Tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, but they are found most often in the United States.  Tornadoes cause an average of 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries in the U.S. each year.  The strongest tornadoes can have rotating winds of more than 250 mph, be up to a mile wide and stay on the ground over 50 miles.

Tornado and torrential rains.
Tornado and torrential rains.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Lightning causes an average of 80 fatalities and 300 injuries each year.  Lightning occurs in all thunderstorms; each year lightning strikes the Earth 20 million times. The rapid heating and cooling of the air near the lightning channel causes a shock wave that results in thunder.

Flash Flooding is the #1 cause of deaths associated with thunderstorms with more than 140 fatalities each year. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet; a depth of two feet will cause most vehicles to float.

Hail causes more than $1 billion in damage to property and crops each year.  Large stones can fall at speeds faster than 100 mph.

Hail storm.
Hail storm.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Damaging winds, also known as straight-linewinds are responsible for most thunderstorm wind damage and can exceed 100 mph!

Winter Weather Hazards
Special atmospheric conditions and small variations in temperature determine whether precipitation will fall as snow, freezing rain, or sleet. 

Learn more about these severe weather hazards at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory’s Severe Weather Primer Web site.

Warnings

We can’t stop a weather tantrum, but we can let you know it is coming!  The NOAA Storm Prediction Center, part of the National Weather Service, provides timely and accurate forecasts and watches for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over the contiguous United States. The SPC also monitors heavy rain, heavy snow, and fire weather events across the U.S. and issues specific products for those hazards. 

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.

NOAA’s National Weather Service issues local Severe Thunderstorm, Tornado, and Flash Flood warnings. These warnings are broadcast over local NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards stations serving the warned areas. These warnings are also relayed to local radio and television stations, and emergency management and public safety officials who can activate local warning systems to alert communities.

Severe weather research conducted at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory has led to valuable improvements in severe and hazardous weather forecasting increasing warning lead times to the public. NSSL scientists are exploring new ways to improve our understanding of the causes of severe weather and ways to use weather information to assist National Weather Service forecasters, emergency managers, and the public.

So the next time you experience “grumpy” weather, look to NOAA to provide you with the most up-to-the-minute information, alerts, and warnings. NOAA logo.