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Weather warning for severe thunderstorms in parts of Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening

An updated National Weather Service report was issued at 9:16 p.m. Wednesday, reporting severe thunderstorms until 10:15 p.m. for Southern Lycoming and Sullivan, Montour, Northumberland, Columbia, Dauphin and Lebanon counties.

Residents must expect wind gusts of up to 80 km/h.

“At 9:16 p.m., Doppler radar tracked strong thunderstorms along a line extending from 18 miles north of Berwick through Bloomsburg to 14 miles south of Shamokin to Hummelstown. Movement was eastward at 35 miles per hour,” the weather service said. “Gusty winds could knock down tree limbs and blow over unsecured objects.”

Places affected by the warning include Harrisburg, Lebanon, Bloomsburg, Pottsville, Hershey, Colonial Park, Berwick, Progress, Shamokin, Palmyra, Tamaqua, Linglestown, Mount Carmel, Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah, Annville, Danville, Minersville, Mahanoy City and Frackville.

According to the weather service, “If you are outdoors, you should seek shelter indoors. A tornado warning is in effect for central, southern and north-central Pennsylvania until 11 p.m. A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for south-central Pennsylvania until 10 p.m.”

Preparing for lightning strikes: safety tips from experts

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

To protect yourself during a thunderstorm, follow these recommendations:

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.
  • Immediately seek shelter in a safe place, preferably indoors.

Indoor safety measures:

  • Avoid using corded telephones, electrical appliances or plumbing indoors and stay away from windows and doors.
  • These precautions help reduce the risk of electrical surges, as lightning can follow conductive paths.

Wait for the all-clear:

  • Wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or clap of thunder before resuming outdoor activities.
  • Remember that lightning can still strike even after a storm appears to have passed, 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.
  • Camping outdoors during a thunderstorm is strongly discouraged. If you have no other options, set up camp in a valley, ravine, or other low-lying area. It is important to note 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.

Mastering wet roads: safety tips for heavy rain

Heavy rain increases the risk of flooding and dangerous roads. Here's your weather service guide to staying safe during downpours:

Be careful with fast water flow:

During heavy rain, do not park or walk near culverts or drainage ditches as fast-flowing water can pose a great danger.

Keep the safety distance:

In heavy rain, the two-second following rule is helpful. Increase it to four seconds to ensure a safe following distance in adverse conditions.

Reduce speed and drive carefully:

On wet roads, it is important to reduce speed. Slowly ease off the accelerator and avoid sudden braking to prevent skidding.

Choose your lane carefully:

Stay in the middle lanes as water often collects in the outside 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 of 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 is severely affecting your visibility, pull over to the side of the road and wait for conditions to improve. Seek shelter in rest areas or places sheltered from the wind.

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. Leave your headlights on and activate your hazard lights to alert other drivers to your position.

In heavy rain, these precautions can go a long way to keeping you safe on the road. Remember to check weather conditions and follow the instructions of local authorities to ensure a safe journey.

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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