Severe Weather Awareness Week: Storms, lightning and hail

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Storms, lightning and hail

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Storms, lightning and hail

Severe weather is possible during any month in Minnesota, but April marks the traditional start to severe weather season in the upper Midwest.

Tuesday is the second day of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota, and 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Meteorologist Chris Reece is sharing what viewers need to know about storm conditions like lightning, hail and strong winds.

A typical thunderstorm is only a few miles wide and lasts just minutes, but regardless of size, all thunderstorms are dangerous.

Lightning plays a significant role in storm danger because it strikes unpredictably. Reece says that’s why meteorologists use the phrase, “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

“If you’re hearing thunder, there is lightning, and people need to get inside,” said Todd Krause, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Twin Cities office.

Hail can also cause significant damage. The Twin Cities knows this well, as a rush hour hailstorm last August caused over $1.5 billion in damage.

“Every year, we always have some storms that produce baseball-sized hail. Whether it hits in a rural area or downtown Minneapolis, it’s just how things go,” Krause said.

But straight-line winds may be the most dangerous risk from a storm, Reece says. Straight-line winds of at least 58 mph make a storm severe and are strong enough to cause damage. Sometimes, they can exceed 125 mph and leave tornado-like damage, highlighting why it’s important to seek shelter indoors and away from windows during a severe storm warning.

“If you get the wind strong enough, they can do structural damage to buildings. They can take roofs partially off houses,” Krause said.

As the week continues, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reminds Minnesotans and Wisconsinites to make family plans for what to do in a severe storm.

If you missed Monday’s topic, click here to learn about alerts and warnings.