Typical Prepping

Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Flooding, Oh My!

June 01, 2021 Keith Thomas Season 1 Episode 13
Typical Prepping
Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Flooding, Oh My!
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In This Episode:

As spring approaches we begin to see an increase in thunderstorms which bring with them the threat of high winds, lightning strikes, flooding, and tornadoes.

 Today we'll talk about how you can prepare and protect yourself and your family from these weather anomalies. 

Key Topics:

  • Thunderstorm and lightning facts and myths
  • Preparing for a thunderstorm 
  • Preparing for a tornado 
  • Preparing for flooding 
  • Conclusion 


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Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, and Flooding Oh My!

Welcome to Typical Prepping. The podcast for those who would like to start their own disaster preparedness plan, or those who have gotten started, but are not quite sure where or how to take the next steps.

Each week I'll present a disaster preparedness topic with actionable tips and strategies that you can implement to start or grow your personal disaster preparations. Thanks for stopping by to listen today.

Hi folks, I’m Keith, welcome to Typical Prepping!

In this episode, we’ll be talking about severe weather safety. As spring and summer approaches we begin to see an increase in thunderstorms which bring with them the threat of high winds, lightning strikes, flooding, and tornadoes.

 Today we'll talk about how you can prepare and protect yourself and your family from these weather anomalies. 

First, let’s look at some facts and myths about thunderstorms and lightning.

1. An estimated 16 million thunderstorms occur on Earth every year.

2. At any given time, there are about 2,000 thunderstorms in progress.

3. Thunderstorms can produce damaging straight-line winds, hail, heavy rain, deadly lightning, and tornadoes.

4. In the United States alone, an estimated 100,000 thunderstorms occur each year.

5. Of those 100,000 thunderstorms in the U.S., about 10% are classified as severe, producing either damaging winds or wind damage, large hail, and/or tornadoes.

6. There are four main types of thunderstorms: single-cell, multi-cell cluster, multi-cell line (a squall line), and supercell.

7. The average thunderstorm is 15 miles wide and lasts around 30 minutes.

8. Lightning forms due to the collision of ice crystals and water droplets within clouds creating positive and negative electric charges, which become separated by convective forces. A lightning bolt dispenses from the cloud when the charges become separated enough.

9. Some 25 million lightning strikes are recorded in the U.S. each year.

10. Most lightning in the U.S. occurs during the summer, but people can be struck any time of the year.

11. Lightning kills an average of 26 people a year in the U.S. (2010 to 2019 data) and injures hundreds more. Some survivors suffer lifelong neurological damage.

12. There is no safe place outdoors when you hear thunder, so you should move indoors immediately.

1. Myth: A tree can act as sufficient shelter during a thunderstorm.

Fact: No. Standing underneath or near a tree is the second most dangerous place to be during a thunderstorm; the most dangerous is being outside in an open space. An enclosed building with wiring and plumbing is the safest place to be during a storm. Remember: Trees, sheds, picnic shelters, tents, or covered porches will not protect you from lightning.

2. Myth: Lightning victims carry an electrical charge. If you touch them, you can be electrocuted.

Fact: Not true. The human body does not store electricity. If you are able to, you should give a lightning victim first aid and/or immediately call 911. This is the most chilling of lightning myths because it could be the difference between life and death. 

3. Myth: If you are trapped outside during a thunderstorm, crouching down will reduce your risk of being struck by lightning.

Fact: No. Crouching down will not make you any safer. If you are stuck outside during a storm, keep moving toward a safe shelter.

4. Myth: Lightning never strikes in one place twice.

Fact: Actually, lightning can, and often does, strike the same place repeatedly — especially if it’s a tall and isolated object. For example, the Empire State Building is hit about 25 times per year.

5. Myth: Lightning cannot strike in an area if it is not raining and the skies are clear.

Fact: Not true. Do not wait until a thunderstorm is immediately overhead and for the rain to begin to act. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose an immediate threat, even if the sky above you is blue. If thunder roars, seek shelter immediately.


To prepare for a thunderstorm;

Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.

Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

If a thunderstorm is likely in your area:

Postpone outdoor activities.

Get inside a home, building, or hard-top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.

Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.

Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.

Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades, or curtains.

Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.

Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.

Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.

Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.


Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an

open area

Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water

Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas

Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles

During a Thunderstorm

If you are in a forest:

Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.

In an open area:

Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.

On open water:

Get to land and find shelter immediately.

Anywhere you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike). Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

If a tornado is likely in your area;

To ensure you have time to act properly before a tornado hits, it’s helpful to be able to identify the warning signs of a tornado.

You can spot a tornado by:

A rotating, funnel-shaped cloud extending from a thunderstorm and reaching the ground. Tornadoes only form during a thunderstorm. A funnel cloud is the most obvious sign of a tornado, but it won’t always be visible.

Dark green skies. When a tornado forms, there’s usually a lot of hail accompanying it. The light from the sun often refracts off the hail as it’s blown around by the tornado, and this can turn the sky green.

Debris. If the funnel of the tornado isn’t visible, a cloud of debris at ground level can indicate an approaching tornado.

A roaring sound. The rumble of a tornado sounds like a train approaching. The crashing of the debris can make a lot of noise, too.

There’s no set time for how long a tornado can last, but most of them last for less than 10 minutes.

In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or workbench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can boost survivability also.

 In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. If you have a metal bathtub, that may offer a shell of partial protection, but not plastic or fiberglass ones, which are easily penetrated by projectiles. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.

 In an office building, hospital, nursing home, or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

 In a mobile or manufactured home: Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Your plan could include staying with someone who is in a sturdy permanent structure if a tornado threat is  forecast. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes, and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. 

 At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or windowless room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

 In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushions if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

 In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.

 In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room, or other small enclosed areas, away from windows.

 In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.


Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Carefully render aid to those who are injured. Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity! Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby. Remain calm and alert, and listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.


If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, preparing for a flood should be part of your preparedness plan.

Before a Flood

Know your flood risk.

Make a flood emergency plan.

Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.

Consider buying flood insurance. Review property insurance policies as many do not include coverage for floods.

Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there if you need to get to higher ground, the highest level of a building, or to evacuate.

Raise furnaces, water heaters, and electrical components above the base flood elevation level. Install a sump pump system to drain water away from your home.

Seal basement walls to prevent water seepage.

Install backflow valves or standpipes on sewer lines to prevent water from backing up into the home.

During a Flood

Stay tuned to radio, TV, or the internet for weather updates, emergency instructions, or evacuation orders.

If time permits, move furniture and other items to upper floors.

Be prepared to turn off utilities if instructed to do so.

Be prepared to evacuate if instructed to do so.

In the case of flash flooding, do not wait for instructions. Move immediately to higher ground.

Do not move through moving water if at all possible. Use a stick to ensure the ground is firm.

Do not drive in flooded areas. Vehicles can quickly be swept away.

Avoid downed power lines.

After a Flood

Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

Clean and disinfect anything that has come in contact with floodwater.

Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.

Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.

Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.

  Financial disaster list in show notes 


I think we can all agree that Spring and Summer are generally our favorite seasons. However, with these seasons comes the threat of severe weather. 

  • Have a plan!  Make an emergency plan for yourself and your family! Know what to do, where to go, and what to take. Have an emergency communication plan to keep in touch should your family not be together when a disaster strikes.
  • Know what to do! When severe weather conditions threaten, listen to local news and authorities for important information. This information will direct you to the next 2 steps which are where to go and what to take.
  • Where to go! Based on the information we have discussed, make a shelter and/ or evacuation plan. This will include where to take shelter whether you're at home or not and where you may be evacuating too.
  • Build your kit. 

              If you haven’t already built a 72hr kit buy or build one now. In many cases, it could take some time before first responders and disaster workers are able to get to you. Your kit can provide some comfort if you have to wait for help.

Communication plan pdf, financial disaster pdf, and Kit list in show notes.  

 Well, folks, that's gonna do it for this week. Thanks for listening and join me next week for another preparedness topic and Until then, stay safe and be prepared! 

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 Until next time, stay safe and be prepared!

Thunderstorm and Lightning Facts and Myths
Preparing for a Thunderstorm
Tornado Preparation and Safety
Flood Safety and Preparedness