Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Thunderstorms

WSAV NOW Weather

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — It’s day 2 of Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Georgia and today’s topic is thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms can occur in any month of the year in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, not just during the spring and summer. When the dangers associated with thunderstorms reach certain criteria, they get a special designation as a severe storm.

In order for a thunderstorm to be considered severe, it must produce at least 1 of the 3 following conditions: damaging winds of 58 mph or greater, large hail greater than or equal to 1 inch in diameter, and/or a tornado. While lightning and flash flooding are not part of the definition, they can also be dangerous – if not deadly – components to a thunderstorm.

On average, Georgia experiences severe thunderstorm winds 75 days a year. Most severe storms happen during the spring and summer months with the most storms occurring in July. A thunderstorm doesn’t need to be severe for it to produce damage. No matter if there is a severe thunderstorm warning issued or not, when thunder roars, go indoors!

Bow Echo vs Hook Echo

We look at specific ingredients to help us predict severe weather. Key ingredients are moisture in the atmosphere, winds aloft to help lift (need rising to create storms), instability/energy to cause the storms strengthen, and a low level spin for tornadoes. Different radar signatures can then determine what our greatest threat in severe thunderstorms.

While the possibility of tornadoes captures quick attention, straight lined winds can cause just as much or more damage because they can cover a larger area. In January 2020, a severe line of thunderstorms tracked through the southeast. It produced just under 1,200 storm reports from Texas into Central Georgia. 1,078 of those reports were from damaging winds.


To keep you and your family safe, it is important to know the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning. 

A severe thunderstorm watch is issued when there is potential for the development of severe storms within the next six hours. This means, be ready and thinking about how you will react if severe storms develop.

Severe thunderstorm warnings are issued when severe storms are occurring or likely to occur soon. This mean it is now time to put your plan in place and be in a safe place indoors until the danger passes. Lowest level, interior rooms, away from windows are your best bet.

It is critical to receive watches and warnings immediately as they are issued. You may not be near a TV when severe weather is suddenly approaching. Sirens are only meant to be heard outdoors and don’t always sound consistently.


While we will always alert you to severe weather on social media, this also is not the best way to get your alerts. The days of chronologically ordered posts in your social media feeds are over. Social platforms predict which posts are most likely to spark your interest and place those at the top. If you don’t have a history of liking, commenting on, or sharing posts related to severe weather, they may just get filtered out of your feed altogether. Even if that’s not the case, you may not see the post until a day or two later.

That’s why we always recommend the WSAV Weather App to receive local alerts immediately. You can customize it for your location so you’re only receiving alerts for your location. To download the app for free, click here:

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