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Infographic: Not all thunderstorms are the same

May 11, 2023 | Laura King-Homan | infographic, weather
A bolt of lightning goes from cloud to ground from a dark sky.

When the skies to the west darken and the temperature drops, most Midwesterners know a storm is coming. But not all thunderstorms are the same.

We spoke to experts at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Valley, Neb., for some insight, and information about severe weather. In 2022, the number of tornadoes reported in Nebraska was down from the 30-year average of 49, according to the NWS. There were 26 tornadoes reported in the state last year, with 10 occurring in April.

Beyond tornadoes, severe thunderstorms can also be destructive this time of year. Below is a graphic outlining the anatomy of a thunderstorm system.


What’s in a storm

What exactly is a “severe thunderstorm”? The weather service applies specific criteria to storms of this level.

A thunderstorm is severe when it produces:

  • Quarter-size hail one-inch or larger in diameter
  • Winds of at least 58 miles-per-hour
  • A tornado

Know the difference

If you live in the Midwest, you’ve heard about the difference between a watch and a warning since childhood. But it’s always a good idea to refresh your knowledge about severe weather.

  • Watch: Be prepared because severe weather is possible. Check for forecast updates, monitor sky conditions and know where to take shelter, if needed.
  • Warning: Take action because severe weather is imminent. Take shelter immediately, seek further information and check for forecast updates from local media and the weather service.
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About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the supervisor, Brand and Communication Operations, at Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan >

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