Thunderstorms in North Carolina: How often they happen and how to stay safe if you're caught in one

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Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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NC is no stranger to wild weather conditions. Severe thunderstorms are just one type of dangerous weather event that happens fairly regularly.

North Carolina is no stranger to wild weather conditions. Severe thunderstorms are just one type of potentially dangerous weather event that happens fairly regularly in our region.

Severe thunderstorms are most likely to form in the spring and summer, although they can technically happen anytime during the year. The storms will usually unleash torrential rain, lightning, hail and strong winds.

Any one location in the state can expect a thunderstorm on 40-50 days of the year--about 10 percent of those will be severe. Severe thunderstorms happen when winds are in excess of 58 miles per hour and/or hail that measures 1 inch in diameter falls to the ground and/or the storm spawns a tornado.

ABC11's First Alert Weather team monitors storms around the clock to keep you safe. The team uses the First Alert Doppler Radar to locate each storm and evaluate their strength, size and path.

Our experienced team of meteorologists will track all warnings and break into regularly scheduled programming if the storms pose a significant danger to people in the ABC11 viewing area.

Everybody in North Carolina should respect the strength of thunderstorms and take precautions in the event you find yourself in the path of a particularly strong system.

If you hear thunder, head indoors and stay there until the storm passes. A car is a good alternative, if you cannot find a sturdy structure to retreat inside. However, you should still try and stay away from doors and windows and avoid electrical equipment if at all possible.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that people indoors should avoid running water during storms. This is because lightning could theoretically travel through plumbing--although that is unlikely and even more unlikely if you have plastic rather than metal pipes. Still, if you can avoid showering, washing dishes, etc., it's safest to do so.