Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 13-17. Tuesday brings to attention Severe Weather, Lightning and Hail.

Thunderstorms affect relatively small areas, compared with most other storms. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts for 30 minutes. All thunderstorms are dangerous. Move to an appropriate shelter if you are in the path of the storm.

Severe thunderstorms produce large hail, winds around 58 mph, with gusts at times exceeding 100 mph, and produces tornado-like damage. Some communities will sound sirens for damaging straight-line winds.

Minnesota's strongest thunderstorm gust was 85 mph on June 19, 2007, in Goodridge.

Hail is a product of thunderstorms. Most hail is about pea-sized, but can be the size of baseballs and reaching grapefruit-sized, and anywhere in between.

Lightning kills about 100 Americans each year -- more than tornadoes -- and causes about 300 injuries.

Lightning safety tips include:

  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, move to a safe shelter.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.

If you are outside and unable to get indoors:

  • Never shelter under an isolated tree.
  • Get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, etc.)

Here are some facts about lightning:

  1. Lightning often strikes away from rainfall. It may occur as far as 10 miles away.
  2. Rubber provides no protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides some protection if you are not touching the metal.
  3. Lightning victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
  4. What is referred to as heat lightning is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.