Thunderstorms & Lightning

What are thunderstorms

thunderstorm

A thunderstorm is simply a rain shower during which you will hear thunder. Thunder comes from lightning, so all thunderstorms have lightning. We classify a thunderstorm as “severe” when it has one or more of the following attributes: wind gusts in excess of 57.5 mph, a tornado, or hail of one inch or greater. There are in excess of 15 million thunderstorms annually worldwide and about 100,000 each year in the US. They are most likely in the spring and summer and during the afternoon or evenings. They are more prominent along the Gulf Coast and across the southeastern and western states but can occur anywhere and just about anytime.

Damage from thunderstorms can include flooding, water damage, lightning strike or fire. While the odds of being struck by lightning in a year are about 1 in 500,000 and an average of 35 people die per year from it. A thunderstorm comes from rain-bearing clouds and brings lightning so it can be very dangerous. If you can hear thunder,  you are close enough to be affected by lightning. Thunderstorms can occur in clusters and can produce heavy rain for 30 minutes to an hour.

DAMAGE BUDDY TIPContrary to common belief, it is not safe to be under a tree during a lightning storm. That is the second leading cause of death from lightning. Get indoors or crouch low to the ground.

What kind of damage can thunderstorms and lightning cause?

Thunderstorms are associated with several dangerous weather events. Rainfall can cause flash flooding, tornadoes or lighting. Lightning can cause fires, and fatalities. Hail can damage automobiles, windows, and even harm livestock. The severe winds of thunderstorms can take out power lines and damage mobile homes and tornadoes can be deadly. Damage to your home can range from wind damage, fire to water damage and must be addressed as soon as it is safe.

How to prepare and protect yourself and your family against thunderstorms and lightning.

Prepare your home by removing loose branches and clearing rain gutters. Make copies of personal property and copies of important documents to store offsite. Be informed! The National Weather Service issues watches and warnings of potential thunderstorms, Be sure to heed all watches and warnings and shelter immediately. Be sure you have a family emergency plan and emergency kit with water, non-perishable foods, a battery-powered radio, cell phone with charger, medications, sturdy shoes and supplies for your pet.

How to stay safe during thunderstorms and lightning.

At the very first sign of a thunder or a storm, take action. Go indoors or seek shelter.  Stay away from windows and doors. Do not use a landline and unplug appliances, computers and other electronics. 

Avoid showering, doing laundry or dishes. 

Monitor and obey instructions of public safety officials. If you are outside, shelter in a vehicle. Stay put and avoid touching metal. If you are in an open area, go to a low place and stay away from trees.If you are on the water, get to land immediately. Stay indoors at least 30 minutes after the last thunder or lightning.

What to do after a thunderstorm or lightning.

Continue to monitor emergency information. Call 911 to report downed power lines or gas leaks. If you suspect leaks in your home, go outdoors immediately. Check your home for damage. Document any damage and contact your insurance company immediately. If you suspect water damage, call a water damage specialist immediately.

Does my homeowners insurance cover damage from thunderstorms and lightning?

Every policy is different. Homeowners insurance usually covers damage from lightning strikes but only certain types. Lightning strikes and the damage they might cause such as fires, damage to appliances and electronics are usually covered as perils. They may also cover personal property, additional living expenses should you need to move out, and other structures. 

Wind damage from hail storms, rain and tornadoes is also often covered.  Call your insurance agent immediately to confirm your coverage and make a claim.

Should I hire a property damage attorney?

If you are not satisfied with your insurance companies payout a property damage attorney can be helpful. But remember, they do take a portion of the claim themselves so be sure you understand the terms and that you really need this assistance.