Are Thunderstorms Dangerous?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Hail, which often forms in thunderstorms, can be dangerous.
Hail, which often forms in thunderstorms, can be dangerous.

While thunder itself is not usually dangerous, except in extremely rare circumstances, thunderstorms are, because they are associated with meteorological phenomena like lightning, which can be highly dangerous. If you observe a thunderstorm approaching, try to take cover indoors, and refrain from using the phone or other electrical appliances while staying well clear of the windows. If you are caught outside during a storm, hunch as low to the ground as you can, and avoid lone trees or metal, which can attract lightning. If someone is struck by lighting during a thunderstorm, get medical attention as soon as possible.

A thunderstorm with a tornado.
A thunderstorm with a tornado.

Several things make thunderstorms dangerous. The first is lightning, which accompanies most thunderstorms. Lightning is an electrical discharge which occurs as a result of the separation of positive and negative particles which occurs in many storm systems as the clouds are jostled in the weather. If struck by lightning, a person can die or be seriously injured, and lightning will also damage homes and other property. While death or severe injuries from a lightning strike are rare, they do happen.

Severe thunderstorms can result in flash flooding.
Severe thunderstorms can result in flash flooding.

Thunderstorms are also associated with heavy rain, winds, and hail. The leading cause of death related to thunderstorms is actually flash flooding, which occurs when high amounts of rain fall in a very short period of time. Some areas are more prone to flash flooding than others, but if you are caught in a thunderstorm, watch out for gullies and gulches which may collect water in a flash flood. High wind can cause property damage and fell trees and power lines, potentially posing a hazard, while hail can be deadly if the chunks are large enough, or at least cause serious bruising.

People and pets should go inside homes and buildings during lightning storms to the avoid risk of getting struck.
People and pets should go inside homes and buildings during lightning storms to the avoid risk of getting struck.

In some areas, tornadoes are associated with thunderstorms. Although this does not always occur, a tornado can be very hazardous for people caught in it, and it can contribute to property damage if it gets large enough. If you live in an area which is prone to tornadoes, shelter should be taken in a basement during thunderstorms to avoid the potentially devastating sensation of being caught in a tornado.

Thunderstorms with high amounts of lightning can be dangerous when someone is in an open space or near a body of water.
Thunderstorms with high amounts of lightning can be dangerous when someone is in an open space or near a body of water.

If you have young children, make sure that they understand thunderstorm safety, especially if you live in a region where thunderstorms are frequent. Be aware that lightning can also strike randomly far away from a thunderstorm, so if you can hear or see a thunderstorm, you should take measures to protect yourself. You may also want to consider wearing ear protection, as thunder at high decibel levels can have an impact on your hearing, or leave you with ringing ears for several days.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Hail, which often forms in thunderstorms, can be dangerous.
      By: Gavin Anderson
      Hail, which often forms in thunderstorms, can be dangerous.
    • A thunderstorm with a tornado.
      By: maldesowhat
      A thunderstorm with a tornado.
    • Severe thunderstorms can result in flash flooding.
      By: FedeCandoniPhoto
      Severe thunderstorms can result in flash flooding.
    • People and pets should go inside homes and buildings during lightning storms to the avoid risk of getting struck.
      By: El Gaucho
      People and pets should go inside homes and buildings during lightning storms to the avoid risk of getting struck.
    • Thunderstorms with high amounts of lightning can be dangerous when someone is in an open space or near a body of water.
      By: Paul Lampard
      Thunderstorms with high amounts of lightning can be dangerous when someone is in an open space or near a body of water.
    • Tornadoes produced by thunderstorms can cause significant damage.
      By: FrankBirds
      Tornadoes produced by thunderstorms can cause significant damage.