Thunderstorms & Lightning

Thunderstorms are one of the most common, and wide-spread forms of severe weather that take place in the United States. Lightning alone caused 29 fatalities and 182 injuries in 2010 throughout the US. Many of the 2012 wildfires in Colorado and other western states were started naturally by lightning. Thunderstorms also produce other dangerous weather events, like hail, rain, high winds and possibly tornadoes.

Most damage caused by thunderstorms is classified as an "Act of God". As such, you cannot be singled out by your homeowners insurance company for a rate increase because you filed a claim. Insurance companies can increase premiums for everyone in an area that is susceptible to storm damage though, so use your insurance if you think you may have storm damage. Learn more about storm damage insurance.

What is a Thunderstorm?

Thunderstorms are storms that produce lightning and thunder. Thunderstorms can produce a variety of additional effects, such as high winds, hail, intense rain, sleet and snow; but they do not necessarily have to produce precipitation.

Thunderstorms are the result of moist, warm air rising and condensing as it cools at higher altitudes, forming cumulonimbus clouds. Thunderstorms commonly occur in mid-latitudes from Spring through Fall, with the most intense storm activity often occurring in the summer months in many locations.

Thunderstorms come in many forms. Dry thunderstorms, or those that do not precipitate, often cause wildfires from lightning strikes in places like Colorado. The largest type of storm cell, a supercell, produces many hazardous weather conditions, including hail more than 4 inches in diameter and tornadoes. States like Kansas and Oklahoma, for example, are often a victim of supercell storms that cause extensive damage every year.

Common Types of Thunderstorm Damage

Thunderstorms produce a variety of conditions that can damage residential and commercial buildings and property. To learn more about identifying and dealing with the specific types of damage caused by thunderstorms, follow the links below.

Damage commonly occurs to the following parts of houses and other structures.

Thunderstorm Safety Tips and Preparation

Thunderstorms can be dangerous and should be taken seriously. The National Weather Service issues the following announcements when severe thunderstorms are expected:

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible in and around the watch area. Listen for additional weather notices and be ready to act if a severe weather warning is issued.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by weather radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.

The National Weather Service recommends several precautions that people should take if thunderstorms are likely to occur:

  • People should know the names of local counties, cities, and towns, as these are how warnings are described.
  • Monitor forecasts and know whether thunderstorms are likely in the area.
  • Be alert for natural signs of an approaching storm.
  • Cancel or reschedule outdoor events (to avoid being caught outdoors when a storm hits).
  • Avoid open areas like hilltops, fields, and beaches.

The American Red Cross suggests the following safety actions when thunderstorms occur, or are imminent:

  • Seek shelter indoors in a secure building, away from windows during severe storms. Get out of mobile homes, as they can be flipped over by strong winds associated with thunderstorms.
  • Take cover if you hear thunder. If you hear thunder, lightning is imminent. Get inside and stay inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and hard-wired telephones. Use battery-powered devices instead.
  • Shutter windows securely and stay away from them. Flying debris can break windows easily.
  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing. Electricity can follow water lines.
  • If driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park with flashers on until the storm passes and it is safe to drive again.

Thunderstorm Damage Restoration Information

The following links will help you understand how to go about repairing and restoring your home and property following a thunderstorm. Here you will find information about how to deal with your insurance, how to identify damage, and how to get the right contractor to repair damages.

Getting Insured

Hiring the Right Storm Damage Contractor

Storm Damage Insurance FAQ's

Avoiding Contractor Scams

Identifying Hail Damage

Who is the National Storm Damage Center?

The National Storm Damage Center is an online resource for homeowners and business owners who are located in storm prone areas or are dealing with the effects of a recent storm.

We are here to bridge the gap between customers in need of storm damage repair and reputable contractors familiar with the insurance claim process.

If you would like help with your claim and repair process if you request a free damage inspection from the National Storm Damage Center you can be sure your contractors has passed a rigorous background investigation and has committed to uphold a strict code of ethics.

Storm Damage?

Get a free damage inspection from one of our certified contractors.


If you are a reputable contractor, learn more about certification.

The National Storm Damage Center provides everything you need to prepare for and recover from severe storm damage.