City of Colorado Springs / Emergency Management / Weather Information / Local Weather Hazards / Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms are a common occurrence in Colorado Springs, particularly during the summer months. These storms are accompanied by lightning and are capable of producing heavy rain, strong winds, hail, flash flooding, and even tornadoes. Thunderstorms that do not produce rain, known as dry thunderstorms, can also cause wildfires.

 
To gauge the distance between you and the storm, count the seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide that number by 5 to determine how many miles away the storm is. Seek shelter in a sturdy building or hard-top, non-convertible vehicle if the storm comes within 5 miles of your area.
 
A severe thunderstorm watch tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Keep an eye on the sky, and stay tuned to radio or television to stay informed of issued warnings in your area.
 
A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.
 
 
Lightning Safety

The 30/30 lightning safety rule:  If you see lightning and cannot count to 30 before hearing the thunder, go inside. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

If you are inside during the storm:

  • Avoid showering or bathing as plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Avoid using corded telephones.
  • Unplug any electrical appliances and turn off air conditioners to avoid possible power surges.
  • Keep a hand crank or battery powered radio nearby and stay tuned to weather updates.
 If you are outside during the storm, and unable to find shelter:
  • If you feel your hair stand on end:  This is an indication that lightning is about to strike. Squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND - this will make you a larger target.
  • In an open area: Go to a low place, such as a ravine or valley, and be alert for flash flooding.
  • In a field with level ground: Crouch low with your feet on the ground and close together and place your head between your knees. DO NOT LIE FLAT ON THE GROUND! This will make you a bigger target.
  • If in or around open water: Get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • In the woods: Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of short trees. Crouch down away from tree trunks.
Danger Areas
  • Do not stand under a natural lightning rod, such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area, on a hilltop or in an open field.
  • Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Stay away from anything metal, such as motorcycles, golf carts, bicycles, farm equipment, wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, rails, downed power lines. Put down metal framed backpacks.

For additional lightning safety information, go to http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov