Severe thunderstorm watch, flash flood watch, for Morris, July 14

lightning over morristown

Lightning bolts trace the sky over Morristown, October 2010. Photo by David Pass

 

Morris County is under a severe thunderstorm watch through 8 pm on Monday, July 14, 2014, with a flash flood watch through the evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Jeff Paul, director of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, adds:

We expect scattered clusters to begin developing around the area between about 3-4 pm. Storms are expected to expand through the late afternoon hours to become likely after 5 pm. Storms could be strong to isolated severe this evening with wind gusts to 50 mph possible in the strongest storm area.  We’re expecting heavy rain and numerous lightning strikes. Most of the storms should diminish and exit east of Morris County after 9 pm or so but may linger through midnight-2 am.The current forecast data also indicates the possibility of storm/rain for Tuesday PM and evening.

Safety tips, from DisasterCenter.com:

  • Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. ”Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
  • You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. Because light travels so much faster than sound, lightning flashes can sometimes be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. When the lightning and thunder occur very close to one another, the lightning is striking nearby. To estimate the number of miles you are from a thunderstorm, count the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by five.
  • Many strong thunderstorms produce hail. Large hail, or flying glass it may have broken, can injure people and animals. Hail can be smaller than a pea, or as large as a softball, and can be very destructive to automobiles, glass surfaces (skylights and windows), roofs, plants, and crops. In a hailstorm, take cover immediately. Pets and livestock are particularly vulnerable to hail, so bring animals into shelter before storms begin.
  • Downbursts and straight-line winds associated with thunderstorms can produce winds 100 to 150 miles per hour, enough to flip cars, vans, and semi-trucks. The resulting damage can equal the damage of most tornadoes. If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter the same way you would if a tornado were approaching your area. Leave structures that are susceptible to being blown over in high winds, such as a mobile home.

What to Tell Children about thunderstorms

The sound of thunder can be especially frightening for young children. Take the “scariness” away by teaching them what to expect during a thunderstorm and how to be safe.

  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely. Many people take shelter from the rain, but most people struck by lightning are not in the rain! Postponing activities is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
  • If you see or hear a thunderstorm coming, go inside a sturdy building or car. Sturdy buildings are the safest place to be. If no building is nearby, a hard-top vehicle will offer some protection. Keep car windows closed and avoid convertibles. Rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide no protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • If you can’t get inside, or if you feel your hair stand on end, which means lightning is about to strike, hurry to a low, open space immediately. Crouch down on the balls of your feet, place your hands on your knees and lower your head. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize contact with the ground.
  • Practice the “crouch down” position. Show children how to practice squatting low to the ground to be the smallest target possible for lightning in case they get caught outside in a thunderstorm. Show them how to place their hands on their knees and lower their head, crouching on the balls of their feet.
  • Stay away from tall things like trees, towers, fences, telephone lines, or power lines. They attract lightning. Never stand underneath a single large tree out in the open, because lightning usually strikes the highest point in an area.
  • Stay away from metal things that lightning may strike, such as umbrellas, baseball bats, fishing rods, camping equipment, and bicycles. Lightning is attracted to metal and poles or rods.
  • If you are boating or swimming, get to land immediately. Stay away from rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water and get off the beach. The saturated sand conducts electricity very well. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. When lightning strikes nearby, the electrical charge can travel through the water. Each year people are killed by nearby lightning strikes while in or on the water or on the beach.
  • Turn off the air conditioner and television, and stay off the phone until the storm is over. Lightning can cause electric appliances, including televisions and telephones, to become dangerous during a thunderstorm.
  • Stay away from running water inside the house; avoid washing your hands or taking a bath or shower. Electricity from lightning has been known to come inside through plumbing.

What to Tell Children about flash floods

  • If you come upon flood waters, stop, turn around, and go another way. Climb to higher ground. If it is moving swiftly, even water six inches deep can knock you off your feet. Many people are swept away wading through flood waters, resulting in injury or death.
  • Stay away from flooded areas. Even if it seems safe, flood waters may still be rising.
  • Never try to walk, swim, drive, or play in flood water. You may not be able to see on the surface how fast flood water is moving or see holes and submerged debris.
  • If you are in a vehicle and become surrounded by water, if you can get out safely, do so immediately and move to higher ground. Vehicles can be swept away in two feet of water.
  • Watch out for snakes in areas that were flooded. Flood waters flush snakes from their homes.
  • Stay away from creek and stream banks in flooded and recently flooded areas. The soaked banks often become unstable due to heavy rainfall and can suddenly give way, tossing you into rapidly moving water.
  • Never play around high water, storm drains, ditches, ravines, or culverts. It is very easy to be swept away by fast moving water.
  • Throw away all food that has come into contact with flood waters. Contaminated flood water contains bacteria and germs. Eating foods exposed to flood waters can make you very sick.

What to Do if Your Are Driving During a Flood

  • Avoid already flooded areas, and areas subject to sudden flooding. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Most flood fatalities are caused by people attempting to drive through water, or people playing in high water. The depth of water is not always obvious. The roadbed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped. Rapidly rising water may stall the engine, engulf the vehicle and its occupants, and sweep them away. Look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges, and low areas. Two feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
  • If you are driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find another route. Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. If your route is blocked by flood waters or barricades, find another route. Barricades are put up by local officials to protect people from unsafe roads. Driving around them can be a serious risk.
  • If your vehicle becomes surrounded by water or the engine stalls, and if you can safely get out, abandon your vehicle immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles. When a vehicle stalls in the water, the water’s momentum is transferred to the car. The lateral force of a foot of water moving at 10 miles per hour is about 500 pounds on the average automobile. The greatest effect is buoyancy – for every foot that water rises up the side of a car, it displaces 1,500 pounds of the car’s weight. So, two feet of water moving at 10 miles per hour will float virtually any car. Many persons have been swept away by flood waters upon leaving their vehicles, which are later found without much damage. Use caution when abandoning your vehicle, and look for an opportunity to move away quickly and safely to higher ground.

 

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