National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
  • General (lightning)

Biggest takeaway:
This is a routine occurrence/hazard that needs a plan - otherwise, you are putting your people's lives at risk. When Thunder Roars - Go Indoors (or into your vehicle). Nearly all lightning deaths occur outside - from people disregarding their risk, or thinking they have a few minutes more. The most deadly strikes are often the first few before the rain begins.

Warning/Trigger for Plan:
There is no NWS warning for lightning threat, but nature has its own warning - thunder.

Advance Notice/Time to Activate & Accomplish Your Planned Response:
Typically 5-30 minutes

Frequency:  ~ 20 times/year at various time of day & night


  • Lightning threat is all about level of risk. Anything past what is listed below as safe near a thunderstorm increases your risk.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are in danger of being struck outdoors.
  • Nearly all lightning deaths occur outdoors.
  • Staying dry is not the same as being safe from lightning.
  • Some charge from a nearby strike can be carried through wiring & plumbing. To be extra safe, avoid using corded items, or showers/sinks during thunderstorms.
  • What is Safe?:
    • Fully enclosed, permanent building
      • Not roofed, but open shelters (like gazebos)
      • Not fabric covered, metal framed pavilions
      • Shelter from the rain is not the same as shelter from lightning
    • Hardtop (non-convertible) Vehicles
    • "When Thunder Roars, Head Indoors"
    • Shelter at first rumble of thunder
    • Shelter until 30 mins after last rumble of thunder
    • Anything less than the above increases risk.
  • At a minimum, make all aware of the risk, & what they can do to lessen their own risk individually.
  • Safety References: