What is an Electrical Storm?

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  • Written By: J.Gunsch
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2018
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An electrical storm is more commonly known as a thunder or lightning storm. It may or may not present thunder, but lightning can still occur in the absence of thunder. Thunder is a direct result of lightning and occurs as clouds are separated and rejoin during an electrical storm. In addition to thunder and lightning, this type of storm may also include wind, hail, rain or snow.

Electrical storms are created from the combination of atmospheric processes and dry air. The friction created between different climatic occurrences creates a buildup of energy which results in a storm. The electrical storm is similar to the static electricity that is created when you rub a balloon on your hair and it sticks to the wall although obviously on a much larger scale.

This type of storm can be potentially dangerous. Damaging winds, heavy rain, snow or hail can cause a lot of damage to property as well as injuries to people and animals. Lightning can strike a person but more often causes fire when it strikes homes or trees. Because you can never be quite sure how much of a threat a particular storm poses, you should take precautions for every storm.


Preparing for an electrical storm is not complicated. First ensure that large, dead trees or branches surrounding your residence are cleared. This will help to prevent limbs from falling on the building, vehicles, or people in the event of a powerful storm. Always have an emergency kit assembled and stored in a convenient location. An emergency kit should include batteries, flashlight, radio, first aid products and water.

Watch for darkening skies or winds that signify that a storm is approaching. Take cover in your home and make sure that your pets and livestock are also securely sheltered. During the course of an electrical storm, you should not use electrical appliances such as television or phone and do not use water.

If you are outside and away from a building, take shelter in a vehicle if possible. If you are not near shelter, avoid standing under trees or other tall objects which are vulnerable to being struck by lightning. It is best to squat down with your hands on your knees if you are outside in an isolated area to avoid being hit by lightning. Additionally, immediately get out of water if you are swimming as soon as you see that an electrical storm is approaching.


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Post 15

I am wondering if I was close to getting lightning in the house. During a recent electrical storm, I woke to a ringing/jingling sound. I sat up to listen for where it was coming from and it rang several times over about 30 minutes with some rings going for several seconds. It seemed to time right before a flash of lightning. It was a piece of metal wall art in the shape of a branch of maple leaves. It looks like copper and a yellow metal that might be tin just because it is so light. Was it conducting? I was tired and went back to sleep but wonder if lightening could have shot out of the metal. Any theories?

Post 14

This article answered a question I have had for a long time. I always wondered which came first, the lightning or the thunder. Now that I know that thunder is a direct result of lightning, my question has been answered.

I do know that it isn't wise to be in water if there is a chance of lighting. If you are in a pool, they will always clear the pool if there is going to be an electrical storm.

If I am at home and know that a bad lightning storm is coming, I will unplug my computer until the storm is over. I know some people who unplug other electronic in addition to their computer.

Post 13

Both of my kids were scared of thunder and lightning storms when they were younger. I remember my mom telling us when we were kids that the sound of thunder was the angels bowling in heaven, and the lightning was when they got a strike. As kids, we were pretty fascinated with this image.

As a kid I never was bothered with thunderstorms but my sister was scared of them. She was older than me, but if there was a bad storm outside, she would crawl in bed with me because she was so scared. I think it is quite common for kids to be afraid of a thunder storm in the middle of the night, especially if a big clap of thunder wakes you up from a deep sleep.

Post 12

I live in the Midwest and it is common for us to have thunder and lightning storms in the summer. I have a friend who moved here from the West coast and she said they rarely have thunder storms there. As long as there isn't any damaging wind I really don't mind a thunder storm and enjoy listening to the rumbles of thunder.

It is a different story for my dogs though. As they get older, they are petrified of thunder storms and can tell one is coming long before I know it. They must be able to sense the changes of atmospheric pressure in the air because they become very anxious and stressed.

One of my dogs will run and hide under the shed outside and won't come out until the storm is over. It is funny how these storms never seem to bother them when they are young, but only as they get older.

Post 11

@anon268827-- The few times I have driven in a hail storm, I look for shelter as soon as I can. If there isn't a place to get my car out of the hail, I least pull off the road so I am not driving. Hail storms don't usually last very long, but they can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. There is usually some kind of warning that a bad storm is approaching. If the sky gets really dark, that is a pretty good sign that you are going to have some kind of storm.

Post 10

@anon219273 - My favorite experience of a lightning storm was when I was a child living in Colorado. We were out when two big electrical storms collided and there was sheet lightning. It lit up the whole sky, and really scared us, even though we knew that we would be fine.

We rushed home, luckily before the rain started because we had a dog tied up in the back yard.

The poor thing had been so scared he had run around the pole where his rope was tied and tangled himself up so he could hardly move.

I'll never forget the noise and the light that we experienced that night. Nature is a fearsome thing.

Post 9

@anon26887 - Well, you might damage the vehicle if the hail is large enough, but generally you should be fine. Even if it manages to crack the windshield, they are made out of safety glass which won't break into dangerous pieces.

It's a really good idea to get it under cover as soon as possible though so you don't end up having to fix your car.

Post 8

@mendocino - Luckily the rubber on the tires of a car is fine though, which I have direct experience of since I drove through an electrical thunderstorm while I was overseas. I wasn't actually driving, I was in the back and so I could see the lightning striking the trees behind us. It was incredible and an experience I'm never going to forget.

I didn't know that the rubber was protecting us, to be honest, so I thought that we were about to die, but obviously, we were fine.

Post 6

What if there is hail and you are in a vehicle?

Post 5

I was on a hike yesterday and thunder was present. There was snow coming it hit my head it would fizzle. If it hit my scalp it burned/tingled. It was not painful at all. It was almost comforting. The sound of the snow as it hit me and perhaps all around was something I have never experienced.

Post 2

Can an electrical storm rip the grass off the ground in a linear fashion without bolts? Can the clouds themselves roll across a building and completely erase it from existence? Can it be strong enough to want to pull your body into it? The reason I ask is because I just awoke from a *really* vivid dream where this has happened. Just trying to figure out the signs in it.

Post 1

If caught outdoors in a lightning storm, according to National Lightning Safety Institute, stay away from trees, water and metal objects. Lay low to the ground and cover your ears.

If on a bike, ditch it, the rubber on bike's wheels will not act as an insulator. Rubber is a good insulator, but the tread on the bike is too thin to protect the biker from the lightning bolt.

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