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Severe Weather Facts: Thunderstorms

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(WPMI) Severe weather is expected to roll through the Gulf Coast region Thursday night bringing, among other things, thunderstorms into the area and lasting well into the Friday morning hours. During severe weather situations, it is imperative to stay indoors and off the roads.

Despite a thunderstorm's small size (when compared to a winter storm or hurricane) they are still considered dangerous. According to the National Weather Service, the typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. The storm system rolling through the Gulf Coast consists of several severe thunderstorms and is collectively several hundred miles in diameter.

The NWS considers a thunderstorm severe if it produces hail at least one inch in diameter, winds of 58 mph or stronger, or a tornado.

Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms that occur each year in the United States, about 10 percent are classified as severe.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people some years than tornadoes or hurricanes.

Heavy rain from thunderstorms have the capability of causing flash flooding and the high winds produced can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages.

NOAA states that every year people are killed or seriously injured because they didn't hear or ignored severe thunderstorms warnings.

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