Alan Holt Explains What Makes a Thunderstorm "Severe"

The severe weather was all around the Coastal Bend Friday, but so far, Corpus Christi proper seems to have escaped anything too dangerous. But what kinds of elements make up a severe thunderstorm?

A loud rumble of thunder can seem intense, but the loudness of thunder, the brightness of lightning and the amount of rainfall you receive are all part of a general thunderstorm.

Lightning can be highly visual and frightening at times, even knocking the power out if it strikes the right object. It's also a danger to you if you are outdoors. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to pose a hazard to you and you should seek shelter.

Flooding can also pose a serious threat on the roadways. It only takes half a foot of moving water to lift a vehicle. If you do encounter a road that is flooded, follow this motto: Turn around, don't drown.

While flooding and lightning can spell trouble, they do not make a thunderstorm severe. You often hear meteorologists refer to storms as severe, but there is a rigid trio of conditions that classify a thunderstorm as severe.

Any single one or combination of these conditions satisfy a severe classification of a thunderstorm:

- Winds of 58 mph or higher
- Hail of an inch in diameter or greater
- A tornado.

Regardless of what the thunderstorm is producing, it's always safest to follow this saying: When thunder roars, go indoors.


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