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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Thunderstorm Rumblings

As we were expecting some storms in the Northeast earlier this week, I started thinking about how when I was a kid, I hated thunderstorms. Over the years, we had gone through our fair share of them on our family excursions to the Jersey Shore every summer, but I never got used to them. With some of the feistier ones, Dad would have to pull off to the side of the road to wait them out. And boy, were they feisty: high winds, hail, cloud-to-ground lightning. Yikes! They always scared me. They still do. My friends love them, and they often rib me for being a chicken, and regale me with tales of how they actually enjoy sitting outside on their front porches to watch a good storm roll in. No thank you.

Growing up, my sister and I survived the majority of summertime thunderstorms by huddling in our clothes closet, which we turned into a makeshift fallout shelter, during the really bad ones. And while our encampment stayed off the scary for the most part, I think the real appeal was that we enjoyed snuggling together with our flashlights, counting the one-Mississippis after each flash of lightning, with our hands over our ears, waiting for them to dissipate.

A lot of people think it’s silly that thunderstorms still make me uneasy.  (In fact, one recent memory stands out: I was staying at my brother’s place in Massachusetts, sleeping on a metal rollaway cot in front of an open window during a very strong thunderstorm. I decided to move it away from the window. My brother, ever the realist, mocked my taking precautions against a phantom lightning bolt that was going to come through the window and hit me in my metal bed. On cue, a bolt of lightning struck the house with a giant boom, setting off the internal alarm system that couldn’t be shut off without a circuit breaker. That was pretty much the end of the teasing). But I can state with certainty that I don’t seek shelter in my clothes closet anymore. Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, the fear of those big storms has more or less turned into a healthy respect, and while I’m not about to go outside in metal shoes during one, I do find them fascinating.

While the statistics are low regarding annual deaths from lightning strikes, it’s still vital to take proper precautions. I think it’s very important to heed all warnings and follow the important rules for lightning safety (like, stay away from windows!).  Read our article on lightning safety here.

So while I was waiting to hear the sound of rumbling on the horizon, I realized that I was actually looking forward to a good thunderstorm. Probably because it means summer is still kicking around.

How about you? Thunderstorms: love them or loathe them? Tell us in the comments below!

We have a great article in the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, “6 Ways To Ease Your Dog’s Fear of Thunder and Fireworks,” page 58. Check it out!

3 comments

1 Jennifer J { 09.05.14 at 11:59 am }

I have grown to appreciate a good thunderstorm – especially when it falls on a lazy Sunday when I am more than happy to guiltlessly curl up on the couch. Living in the south has given me solid respect for thunderstorms because they often come with a tornado warning – which is a whooooole other blog post you could write! I think if I still lived near my sister, we’d probably still hide out in a closet during a storm – even if it was just for fun.

2 John Haddock { 09.04.14 at 10:24 pm }

I love thunderstorms, especially here in Florida the lightning capital of the world. We can get as many as 5000 strikes an hour and it is quite spectacular the way they light up the sky. Thunderstorms certainly can be very dangerous and deadly if one isn’t cautious. Florida is the most dangerous state when it comes to lightning strikes. In 1990 14 people were killed and 27 were injured.

3 Twyla { 09.04.14 at 9:27 pm }

Hi Susan! I remember, as a kid, being woken up by my mother during thunderstorms and being brought down into the cellar where we’d huddle behind the stairs. It probably happened at least once or twice a year. This was in NH, mind you — it wasn’t like we lived in a tornado region! Even though I was brought up around that fear of big thunderstorms, I don’t fear the at all.

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