Flooding kills more people on average each year than tornadoes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tornadoes, damaging winds, large hail, flash flooding and lightning are all elements of severe thunderstorms.  

Did you know that a thunderstorm can cause flash flooding and contain frequent lightning and not be an official severe thunderstorm?

A severe thunderstorm is defined to have large hail, damaging winds, or a tornado. Flooding and lightning are not considered.

We focus on the terror of tornadoes, but flooding actually kills more people on average each year. The average number of flooding fatalities is 82 as compared to around 70 per year with tornadoes.  

Lightning and flooding fatalities combined are close to double that of tornadoes. So, when thunderstorms approach please remember the other big threats, flooding and lightning.

It only takes one to two feet of water moving across a road to wash a car away. The National Weather Service has a saying for flood safety, "Turn around, don’t drown."

Lightning reaches the extreme temperature of 50,000 degrees or ten times hotter than the surface of the sun.

Here are a series of lightning safety tips from the National Weather Service (NOAA):

  • NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!
  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

When you are indoors and lighting strikes:

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

When you are outdoors during lightning:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

So, "when thunder roars, go indoors!"

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