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Warning Signs of Storms

Dangerous weather can occur at any time. Although modern technology has made it easier for weather forecasters to predict and warn people about potentially dangerous storms, you should not rely solely on your radio or television for updates. It is still a good idea to know what warning signs to look for to help prevent deaths, injuries and property damage caused by storms.
    • Lightning is the defining characteristic of a thunderstorm since it creates thunder. Dark clouds, distant thunder, high winds and hail are also signs of a thunderstorm.

    • Some of the most common signs of an approaching tornado are a green sky, flying debris and hail. Eyewitnesses to tornadoes also often report a quiet sense of "calm before the storm." A sound similar to the loud roar of a train coming down the tracks is often reported. Tornado sirens are an obvious indication that a tornado is on the way. The siren indicates that a tornado has been sighted and that you should immediately take cover.

    • Ocean waves are a good indicator of an impending tropical storm or hurricane. The waves usually increase in size while decreasing in frequency. Winds will pick up and air pressure will drop as the hurricane gets closer. Tropical storms generally have wind speeds greater than 39 mph, whereas hurricanes have wind speeds of more than 73 mph.

    • Winter storms, such as ice storms and blizzards, are preceded by heavy winds and precipitation, usually in the form of freezing rain or snow.

    • Dust storms usually occur on hot days when there has been a thunderstorm. They resemble large walls of dust and are usually full of debris.