UK weather: What to do in a thunderstorm

Last updated at 11:46
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Thunderstorms are the most common extreme weather in the UK. But while they may be impressive to watch, they can potentially cause a lot of damage and it's important to be careful when the weather is stormy.

Although the chances of being struck by lightning is really, really small, there are some things you can do to protect yourself during a big storm.

Thunder and lightning happens when it's warmer outside. The atmosphere is unstable and clouds called cumulonimbus clouds are made.

Cumulonimbus clouds take place when a pocket of warm air rises and hits colder air above it.

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As the warm and cold air rub together, it causes friction and energy in the sky, which makes electricity. The sound of thunder is made when lightning heats up the air causing it to expand quickly, creating the 'clap' we hear in the sky.

If you're outside and hear thunder or see a flash of lightning, it's best to go indoors. A lightning bolt carries around 20,000 to 30,000 amps of electricity. That's about 2,300 times more electricity than your washing machine.

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How far away is the storm?

The best thing to do is to work out how far away the storm is.

You can do this by counting the seconds between a flash of lightning and the clap of thunder. Roughly speaking every five seconds between the thunder and lightning is a mile. So if you counted ten seconds, then the storm is about two miles away.

Before the storm

If you know a storm is coming, you should unplug appliances including televisions and game consoles, as lightning can cause power surges.

During the storm

Lightning is attracted to tall things. For example, trees are often the tallest objects nearby and make great targets for lightning.

If you're outside in a thunderstorm, find a spot away from trees, fences, and poles. You should also never put up an umbrella.

An umbrella can increase your chances of being hit by lightning if it makes you the tallest object in the area.

Are you safe in a car or plane?

If you are in the middle of a journey and there's a storm rumbling outside, don't worry because a car is one of the safest places you can be.

In the unlikely event that your family's car gets hit by lightning, the electrical current will flow around the outside of a car, and into the ground below.

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WATCH: See a plane being hit by lightning.

Much like you're safe in a car that gets hit by a thunderbolt, if you're off on your holidays in stormy weather, planes are also safe from lightning strikes.

The electrical current generated by lightning will move along the metal body of your plane, and then exit out of the tail of the plane.

Inside the plane, you're protected by a design that carefully makes sure you and your seat can't be an electrical conductor.

So sit back relax and enjoy your flight.

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