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Severe thunderstorms defined

Summer in Minnesota is just around the corner, which means warm days, long evenings and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. Of course, summer is also severe weather season, when thunderstorms are common and tornadoes are a real threat.

We have all seen thunder and lightning in the sky during heavy rain, but have you ever wondered what causes thunderstorms? The National Severe Storms Laboratory says that thunderstorms are caused by convection, which is upward atmospheric motion, usually created by surface heating.

Convection carries moisture and whatever else is present in the air, causing thunderstorms. A thunderstorm is considered “severe” if it includes at least one of the following:

  • Tornado
  • Hail at least one inch in size
  • Wind gusts in excess of 50 knots

Any one of these factors can cause significant damage to homes caught in the storm. A tornado can create winds up to 300 mph and destroy virtually any structure, including houses. Hail can grow to the size of a softball. Besides this, lightning strikes frequently cause fires. Even the rain part of the storm can trigger flash flooding.

Southern Minnesota is within a corridor that runs to Texas, inside of which severe thunderstorms are the most likely, but such storms are possible in any part of the U.S.

The most important thing during a severe thunderstorm is to make sure you and your loved ones are safe. Afterward, it may be time to check your home for damage, and file a claim to your homeowners insurance company.

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