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Thunderstorms and hurricanes: both powerful and potentially deadly

August 15, 2018

Powerful thunderstorms can generate winds that rival the force of weaker hurricanes. Protecting employees and facilities against either “ill wind” is a priority.

Thunderstorms and Hurricanes

From a meteorological standpoint, hurricanes and severe thunderstorms share similar origins, as they both draw strength from warm, unstable air masses. Powerful convection thunderstorms towering miles into the sky are fed by currents of warm, moist air rising from the land in the heat of spring and summer. Hurricanes are spawned by a similar mechanism, with warm ocean waters providing the same source of energy and the Earth’s rotation providing the impetus for a tropical storm’s characteristic spin.

While a typical hurricane season may generate about 12 named storms, with perhaps six achieving hurricane strength,1 more than 100,000 thunderstorms develop in the U.S. each year, with up to 10,000 reaching “severe” status.2

To ensure resilience against the worst impacts of both hurricanes and severe thunderstorms, businesses need to be aware of the following vulnerabilities and make the appropriate changes before the next storm’s arrival:

  • Conduct periodic roof inspections
  • Properly secure roof-mounted equipment
  • Make sure all roof drains open
  • Secure large door openings
  • Be cautious of edge metal flashing

Addressing vulnerabilities in an organization’s facility before a storm arrives can make the difference in helping to prevent destruction.

Read our fact sheet for more information on thunderstorms and hurricanes.


1 Weatherbug. "Forecasters: Average Hurricane Season Expected.” June 4, 2018.
2 Cornell Cooperative Extension. “Severe Summer Storms.” New York EDEN – Extension Disaster Education Network. 2018 Cornell University.

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