OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – Thunderstorms are one of the most common forms of severe weather. They can last anywhere from several minutes to several hours and can even pack quite the punch.
Thunderstorms form when warm moist air is forced to rise into the atmosphere by an approaching front or the surrounding terrain. As the warm air rises it cools and condenses to form clouds, rain, and even hail. Which eventually falls back towards the surface.
A thunderstorm becomes a severe thunderstorm when the storm produces wind gusts in excess of fifty-eight miles per hour, produces hail at least one inch in diameter, or produces a tornado.
When the conditions become favorable for large hail and/or damaging winds the National Weather Service will issue a Severe Thunderstorm Watch. This means you should begin preparing for these conditions by staying informed and having a plan of action. Once the winds or hail is confirmed by Doppler radar or a trained storm spotter a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued. This means you need to take shelter in a sturdy building and move away from any windows as they can be broken by large hail or falling trees.
Regardless if a thunderstorm has damaging winds or hail, all thunderstorms come with lightning which can be extremely deadly. Lighting is caused by a static charge build-up inside the storm which eventually is balanced with static charges on the ground or within other clouds. Lighting can strike up to ten miles away from its parent storm and occurs with little to no warning. So remember when thunder roars go indoors and wait at thirty minutes from the last lightning strike you see before venturing back outside.
To receive the latest severe weather alerts be sure to have a weather radio and follow the WOAY StormWatch Facebook page.