Summer Brings the Chance for Thunderstorms

  • May 31st, 2022

As summer temperatures rise in Alabama, so do the chances for pop-up thunderstorms.

All thunderstorms are capable of producing dangerous lightning and tornadoes even if they don’t meet the criteria to be considered severe. If you are outdoors and hear thunder, you should move indoors until the thunderstorm passes. Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors.

The National Weather Service defines severe thunderstorms as those that are capable of producing hail that is an inch in diameter — or about the size of a quarter — or larger and wind gusts of more than 58 mph.

Know the difference between a watch and a warning.

A map showing counties that are under a severe thunderstorm watch and a polygon showing a portion of a county under a sever thunderstorm warning.
This example map shows counties under a severe thunderstorm watch shaded in pink with a yellow polygon indicating where a severe weather warning has been issued. Credit: National Weather Service

Just as it does for tornadoes, the National Weather Service issues watches and warnings for severe thunderstorms. You should take all severe thunderstorm watches and warnings seriously.

severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms to form in and near the watch area. This area is typically large and covers numerous counties. During a watch, you should stay informed and be prepared to act.

severe thunderstorm warning means severe weather has been reported by trained storm spotters or indicated on radar. Warnings usually only cover a small area and are drawn on a map as a polygon. A warning means there is imminent danger and you should seek shelter inside a sturdy building until the storm has passed.

The UA Safety app, available for iOS and Android devices, is a great way to receive severe weather information. You can turn on notifications to warn you when the weather service issues a severe thunderstorm watch or warning for Tuscaloosa County.

More severe weather safety information is available on the Office of Emergency Management’s website and by listening to 92.5 FM UA Info Radio.

Safety Reminder: UA Alert System Test

Weather permitting, the University will test its emergency notification systems, including UA Alerts, the public address system and digital signage, Wednesday, June 1, at 11:55 a.m

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.