Be prepared for severe thunderstorms in parts of Pennsylvania Tuesday afternoon

On Tuesday at 1:48 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch until 2:15 p.m. for Venango, Butler, Clarion and Armstrong counties.

Residents should prepare for wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour.

“At 1:48 p.m., Doppler radar tracked a strong thunderstorm 11 miles west of Knox, moving west at 10 miles per hour,” the weather service said. “Gusty winds could knock down tree limbs and blow over unsecured objects.”

The warning affects Emlenton, Clintonville, St. Petersburg, Eau Claire, Kennerdell, Foxburg, Cherry Valley and Cranberry Township, among others. This also includes Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania between mile markers 34 and 49.

According to the weather service: “If you are outdoors, seek shelter in a building.”

When lightning threatens: Safety tips from experts during thunderstorms

Lightning strikes occur about 25 million times each year in the United States, with most of these electrifying events occurring during the summer months. Unfortunately, about 20 people are killed by lightning strikes each year, according to the Weather Service. The danger from lightning strikes increases as thunderstorms approach, reaching its peak when the storm is directly overhead and gradually diminishing as it moves away.

To ensure your safety during a thunderstorm, follow these recommendations:

1. Lightning protection plan:

  • When you are outdoors, it is important to have a clear plan for seeking shelter in the event of a lightning strike.
  • Watch the sky for ominous signs and listen for sounds of thunder. If thunder is heard, it is an indication that lightning is nearby.
  • Find a safe shelter, preferably indoors.

2. Indoor safety measures:

  • If you have found shelter in a building, refrain from using corded telephones, electrical appliances or plumbing and do not approach windows and doors.
  • Lightning can follow conductive paths and these precautions reduce the risk of electrical surges.

3. Wait for the all-clear:

  • Wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or clap of thunder before resuming outdoor activities.
  • Even when a thunderstorm appears to be over, lightning can still strike, so be careful.

If no shelter is available in the house:

If you are outdoors during a thunderstorm and do not have access to shelter, take the following steps to maximize your safety:

  • Avoid open fields, hilltops or ridges where the risk of lightning strikes is greater.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees and other prominent objects. In forested areas, stay close to lower stands of trees.
  • If you are traveling in a group, make sure that everyone keeps a sufficient distance from each other to prevent the lightning current from being transmitted between people.
  • It is strongly discouraged to camp outdoors during a thunderstorm. If there is no alternative, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember that a tent does not provide protection from lightning strikes.
  • Do not approach bodies of water, wet objects, or metal objects. Although water and metal do not attract lightning, they are good conductors of electricity and can pose significant risks.

In summary, vigilance and preparation are your best allies when you are at risk of being struck by lightning. By following these guidelines, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of lightning accidents and put your safety first.

Driving in heavy rain: safety tips for wet roads

Heavy rains can cause flooding if they last for a long time or if there is excessive runoff. Excessive runoff can be a result of saturated soil and/or rainfall intensity. Follow these weather service recommendations to stay safe during heavy rain:

Be careful in case of flooding:

  • Avoid parking or walking in close proximity to culverts or drainage ditches, as fast-flowing water may sweep you away during heavy rain.

Keep the safety distance:

  • Follow the two-second rule to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. In heavy rain, allow an additional two seconds to compensate for reduced traction and braking.

Reduce speed and drive carefully:

  • When it is raining and the roads are wet, slow down. Take your foot off the accelerator and reduce the speed gradually. Never brake suddenly, otherwise the car may skid.

Choose your lane carefully:

  • On multi-lane roads, stay in the middle lane to minimize the risk of aquaplaning, as water tends to collect in the outer lanes.

Prioritize visibility

  • In heavy rain, turn on your headlights to improve your visibility. Watch for vehicles in your blind spot as rain-smeared windows can obscure their view.

Be careful on slippery roads:

  • Be especially careful in the first half hour after the rain starts. Dirt and oil on the road surface mix with water and make the road slippery.

Keep a safe distance from large vehicles:

  • Large trucks and buses can reduce your visibility with tire spray. Avoid following them too closely and overtake them quickly and safely.

Pay attention to your windshield wipers:

  • Overloaded wiper blades can reduce visibility. If rain severely reduces your visibility, pull over to the side of the road and wait for conditions to improve. Seek shelter in rest areas or sheltered areas.
  • If you can only stop at the side of the road, position your vehicle as far from the road as possible, ideally behind guard rails. Keep your headlights on and activate your hazard lights to alert other drivers to your position.

By following these safety measures, you can significantly reduce the risks and ensure your well-being during heavy rain. Be aware of weather conditions and follow the advice of local authorities to ensure your trip is safe and unharmed.

Advance Local Weather Alerts is a service from United Robots that uses machine learning to compile the latest data from the National Weather Service.

Anna Harden

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