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The National Weather Service issued an updated severe weather warning at 2:29 p.m. on Sunday, valid until 2:45 p.m. for Columbia and Northumberland counties.

Prepare for hailstones the size of quarters (1 inch) and wind gusts up to 60 mph.

“At 2:29 p.m., a severe thunderstorm was observed over Locustdale, moving east at 45 miles per hour,” the weather service said. “Hail damage to vehicles is expected. Expect wind damage to roofs, siding and trees.”

Places affected by the warning include Pottsville, Shamokin, Mount Carmel, Shenandoah, Frackville, St. Clair, Kulpmont, Ashland, Elysburg, Fairview-Ferndale, Girardville and Marshallton. This includes Interstate 81 from mile markers 116 to 125.

According to the weather service: “Stay in well-built buildings and stay away from windows.”

How to protect yourself from lightning strikes: Safety tips from experts

Lightning strikes occur about 25 million times each year in the United States, with the majority of these electrical discharges occurring during the summer months. Tragically, lightning strikes claim the lives of about 20 people each year, according to the Weather Service. The risk of lightning strikes increases as thunderstorms approach, peaking when the storm is directly overhead. However, it gradually subsides as the storm recedes.

To ensure your safety during a thunderstorm, follow these recommendations:

Lightning protection plan:

  • When you are outdoors, it is important to have a clear plan for seeking shelter in the event of a lightning strike.
  • Watch the sky for ominous signs and listen for sounds of thunder. If thunder is heard, it is an indication that lightning is nearby.
  • Find a safe shelter, preferably indoors.

Indoor safety measures:

  • Avoid using corded telephones, electrical appliances or plumbing indoors and stay away from windows and doors.
  • Lightning can follow conductive paths and these precautions reduce the risk of electrical surges.

Wait for the all-clear:

  • Wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or clap of thunder before resuming outdoor activities.
  • Remember that lightning can still strike even after a storm appears to have passed, so be careful.

If no shelter is available in the house:

If you are outdoors during a thunderstorm and do not have access to shelter, take the following steps to maximize your safety:

  • Avoid open fields, hilltops or mountain ridges where the risk of lightning strikes is greater.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees and other prominent objects. In forested areas, stay close to lower stands of trees.
  • If you are traveling in a group, make sure that everyone keeps a sufficient distance from each other to prevent the lightning current from being transmitted between people.
  • It is strongly discouraged to camp outdoors during a thunderstorm. If there is no alternative, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember that a tent does not provide protection from lightning strikes.
  • Do not approach bodies of water, wet objects, or metal objects. Although water and metal do not attract lightning, they are good conductors of electricity and can pose significant risks.

In summary, preparation and vigilance are your best allies when you are at risk of being struck by lightning. By following these guidelines, you can significantly reduce the chances of being struck by lightning and put your safety first.

Rain showers on the roads: Important safety tips for heavy rain

When heavy rain sets in, the risk of flooding and dangerous driving conditions increases. Whether it’s persistent rain or rapid runoff, it’s important to be prepared. Here are some valuable safety tips from the weather service to help you stay safe during heavy rain:

Be careful in case of flooding:

Avoid parking or walking in close proximity to culverts or drainage ditches, as fast-flowing water may sweep you away during heavy rain.

Keep the safety distance:

In heavy rain, the two-second following rule is helpful. Increase it to four seconds to ensure a safe following distance in adverse conditions.

Reduce speed and drive carefully:

On wet roads, it is important to reduce speed. Slowly ease off the accelerator and avoid sudden braking to prevent skidding.

Choose your lane carefully:

Stay in the middle lanes as water often collects in the outside lanes.

Visibility is important:

In heavy rain, turn on your headlights to improve your visibility. Watch for vehicles in your blind spot as rain-smeared windows can obscure their view.

Be careful on slippery roads:

During the first half hour of rain, the roads are at their most slippery due to a mixture of rain, dirt and oil. Be especially careful during this time.

Keep a safe distance from large vehicles:

Do not drive too close behind large trucks or buses. The spray created by their large tires will limit your visibility. Also be careful when overtaking; if you must overtake, do so quickly and safely.

Pay attention to your windshield wipers:

Overloaded wiper blades can reduce visibility. If rain severely reduces your visibility, pull over to the side of the road and wait for conditions to improve. Seek shelter in rest areas or sheltered areas.

If you can only stop at the side of the road, position your vehicle as far from the road as possible, ideally behind guard rails. Leave your headlights on and activate your hazard lights to alert other drivers to your position.

By following these safety measures, you can significantly reduce the risks and ensure your well-being during heavy rain. Stay informed about weather conditions and follow the advice of local authorities to ensure your trip is safe and unharmed.

Advance Local Weather Alerts is a service from United Robots that uses machine learning to compile the latest data from the National Weather Service.