What makes a thunderstorm “severe?”

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Tuesday was another severe weather day for parts of the Midwest, but strong thunderstorms and even tornadoes occasionally occur here in western Massachusetts as well.

Intense storms dropped large hail that coated the ground in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri Tuesday. Damaging winds were also a concern. High wind gusts in Kansas blew more than 50 train cars off the tracks.

While we are accustomed to bad weather here as well, some people think that those who live in other parts of the country are better prepared.

“I have family in Oklahoma, so we’re familiar with the way tornadoes affect them. They’re very alert to the weather, though, and they’re probably a little more careful about it than we are,” John Thompson of Springfield said.

June through August are the months in which we typically get severe weather in western Massachusetts, but what makes a storm severe? A severe thunderstorm isn’t about the thunder and lightning, or the heaviness of rain. It has to meet one of these criteria: hail an inch or a the size of a quarter in diameter or greater, wind gusts over 57 miles per hour, or they must contain a tornado.

Even if a storm is not severe, you should get inside a sturdy building when you hear thunder.

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