Expect penny-sized hail with thunderstorms to hit North Texas Saturday

A report from the NWS Fort Worth TX on Saturday at 4:11 a.m. is warning residents of strong thunderstorms until 4:45 a.m. The alert is for Montague, Jack and Wise counties.

The storms are packing penny-sized hail (0.75 inches).

"At 4:10 a.m., Doppler radar tracked a strong thunderstorm 10 miles northwest of Jacksboro, moving northeast at 40 mph," says the NWS. "Minor damage to outdoor objects is possible."

Expect strong thunderstorms in Newport around 4:35 a.m.

The NWS adds, "If outdoors, consider seeking shelter inside a building. Frequent cloud to ground lightning is occurring with this storm. Lightning can strike 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. Seek a safe shelter inside a building or vehicle."

This alert is in effect until 4:45 a.m.

What to do as threat of lightning approaches?

Around 25 million lightning strikes occur in the United States every year, with most taking place during the summer months. The NWS reports that these strikes result in about 20 fatalities annually. The probability of lightning strikes rises as a thunderstorm approaches and peaks when the storm is directly above. As the storm moves away, this likelihood decreases.

Here are suggestions for staying safe during a thunderstorm:

• To decrease the risk of getting struck by lightning, when you go outside, establish a plan to reach a safer place.

• If the sky grows ominous and you hear thunder, seek out a safe place to take shelter.

• Once inside, abstain from touching corded phones, electrical devices, plumbing, and windows and doors.

• Wait for 30 minutes after the most recent lightning or thunder before venturing outside.

If finding indoor shelter is not an option:

• Avoid open fields, the top of a hill, or a ridge top.

• Keep a distance from tall, solitary trees or other elevated structures. When in a forest, stay in proximity to shorter tree groupings.

• If you are with a group, fan out to stop the current from transmitting between members.

• If you are camping in an open setting, set up camp in a valley, ravine, or other low spot. Bear in mind, a tent does not protect you from lightning.

• Stay away from water, wet items, and metal objects. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity.

Rainy weather driving tips

• Turn on headlights — Even in daylight, using headlights can help improve visibility and let other drivers know where you are.

• While on the road — Opt for the middle lanes and remain on higher ground. Rainwater tends to gather along the road edges.

• Avoid puddles — Driving into puddles or low rainwater areas can lead to vehicles hydroplaning or losing control.

• Give ample space to large vehicles — Trucks or buses can create a water spray that diminishes visibility.

• Avoid flooded zones — If you encounter a flooded road, make a U-turn and go back. The powerful currents of flash floods can carry drivers off the road. Driving through deep water can also damage a vehicle's mechanical and electrical systems.

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle begins to slide uncontrollably on wet roads.

This happens when water in front of the tire builds up faster than the vehicle’s weight can push water out of the way. The water pressure then causes the vehicle to rise and slide on a thin layer of water between the tires and the road, making the driver lose control. Hydroplaning is most commonly attributed to three factors:

1. Vehicle speed — When a vehicle’s speed increases, the tire-traction grip and ability to control the vehicle decreases. Drive at a reduced speed during wet weather.

2. Water depth — The deeper the water, the sooner a vehicle loses traction on the road. It doesn’t matter how deep the water is, even a thin layer can lead to hydroplaning.

3. Tire tread depth — Checking your tire tread before hitting the road is important, as low or no tread can lead to sliding.

In the event of your vehicle hydroplaning, here’s what to know:

• Ease off the accelerator — Step off the gas to slow down the vehicle until the tires find traction.

• Turn into the skid — Turning into the skid can help the vehicle’s tires realign to regain control.

• Make sure the tires reconnect with the road — During the skid, wait until the tires reconnect with the road and then gently straighten the wheels to regain control.

• Brake gently as needed — Brake normally if the vehicle has anti-lock brakes and pump brakes gently if in an older vehicle.

Source: The National Weather Service