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A thunderstorm is classified as a severe thunderstorm when it contains large (at least one inch) hail and/or winds of 58 MPH or greater. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be affected by lightning. Lightning can strike up to 10 miles ahead of or trailing a storm. Thunderstorms can occur by themselves, in clusters, or in lines. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and produces heavy rain for 30 minutes to an hour.
Thunderstorms are very common in the spring and summer months throughout Massachusetts, with 10–30 days of thunderstorms each year. Thunderstorms can be extremely destructive and can produce lightning, hail, high winds, flash floods, or tornadoes.
The National Weather Service issues severe thunderstorm watches and warnings to alert the public of potential severe weather. It is important to understand the difference between watch and warning so you know what to do to stay safe:
Thunderstorms are possible based on weather conditions.
A severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
When you first hear thunder, see dark threatening clouds developing, see lightning, or after a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take actions to stay safe. Remember “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” If possible, monitor local media for the latest information and follow the instructions given by public safety officials.