Images: Clouds on the hill.
Lightening produced by thunderstorms kill more people every year than tornadoes. Lightening often is at the very front edge of storms and can strike some ten miles before the storm and without your seeing the storm clouds or hearing thunder. It's a myth that lightning never strikes the same place twice.
A NWS WATCH is a message indicating that conditions favor the occurrence of a certain type of hazardous weather.
An NWS WARNING indicates that a hazardous event is occurring or is imminent in about 30 minutes to an hour. Sometimes less.
The National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm SEVERE if it produces hail at least three-quarters of an inch in diameter, has winds of 58 miles per hour or higher, or produces a tornado.
Being prepared is smart. It is a way of protecting your family. It is a way of teaching the family/children/elders what to do under different adverse weather circumstances. It's as important as all the other things you protect your family from during this life. Develop a Family Disaster Plan. Please see the "Family Disaster Plan" for general family planning information.
WQAD web site lets you sign up for weather warnings to come over: your cell phone, your e-mails, and on TV. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local radio or television stations for updated information. If you live in town and hear the sirens - seek shelter immediately. The Weather Service also suggests you have a "weather alert" station. It has a home siren system that goes off when the National Weather Service issues a warning for your area. They are inexpensive, take a small space, and have battery back-up.
This information is expanded upon at http://www.disastercenter.com/guide. It has everything you need to know plus some myth busters. It gives good tips on talking with children to help them make good decisions.
I'm not paranoid about storms but I am realistic about the damage they produce. I've been in Indiana's 1965 Palm Sunday tornado where my aunt was killed and it destroyed (among the hundreds) my parents, my grandparents, and great grandparents houses. I've been in three tornado's in Decatur Illinois, once my car was being moved sideways while I was driving forward. Then, there was the Galva tornado.
Hail, lightening, wind and rain can be beautiful pictures and they can do serious damage to property and people. We can't stop these things but we can be warned, informed, and prepared.
As we are entering our most severe storm season, take a few minutes from gardening and check out some of these web sites.