Severe thunderstorm watch for North Texas until Monday night, says the NWS

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued by the National Weather Service on Monday at 3:49 p.m. in effect until 10 p.m. The watch is for Anderson, Bell, Bosque, Collin, Comanche, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, Eastland, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Henderson, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Kaufman, Lampasas, Leon, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Navarro, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rains, Robertson, Rockwall, Somervell, Stephens, Tarrant, Van Zandt, Wise and Young counties.

This watch is in effect until 10 p.m.

How to react when facing a lightning hazard?

Lightning hits the United States approximately 25 million times annually. The majority of these strikes happen during the summer, causing around 20 fatalities each year, according to the NWS. The likelihood of lightning increases as a thunderstorm gets closer and reaches its highest point when the storm is directly overhead. This risk decreases as the storm moves away.

Here are tips on how to stay safe during a thunderstorm:

• To minimize risk of being struck by lightning, when going outside, have a plan to get to a safer place.

• If the sky becomes threatening and thunder can be heard, find a safe place to shelter.

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

• Wait 30 minutes after the last lightning or thunder before going back outside.

If finding indoor shelter is not an option:

• Avoid open fields, hill peaks, or ridge tops.

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

• When in a group, space out to prevent the current from transferring between individuals.

• 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.

• Keep a distance from water, wet articles, and metal objects. While water and metal do not draw lightning, they are proficient conductors of electricity.

What steps to follow when driving in the rain?

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

• While driving — Stick to the middle lanes and stay on elevated ground. Rainwater tends to accumulate at the road edges.

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

• Maintain a safe distance from large vehicles — Trucks or buses can produce a water spray that hampers visibility.

• Steer clear of flooded areas — When coming to a flooded road, turn around and head back. Flash flooding currents are strong and can sweep drivers off roadways. Driving through deep water can also affect a vehicle’s mechanical and electrical systems.

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning happens when a vehicle starts sliding 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. The three main causes of hydroplaning are:

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