Weather Clock

Spring Weather Week: Debunking storm myths

Original Reporting

SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — When severe weather threatens, it’s important to keep yourself safe.  It’s also important to know fact from fiction.

There are longstanding myths about weather that could put you in harm’s way – if you believe them.

Here are just a few:

1)  Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place  

The odds of being struck by lightning in a year has been estimated at about 1 in 500,000.  Personal behavior can raise or lower those odds.    

Lightning usually takes the shortest route from cloud to ground.  Tall outdoor objects, like trees, towers, or buildings, provide that path.  Lightning frequently strikes twice in the same place; that’s why protection systems can be installed for those tall objects.  

2)  Tornadoes Won’t Cross Water  

Some people don’t think a tornado will cross a river or lake.  Often, it’s because they just haven’t seen it. 

Last year alone, two tornadoes crossed parts of Lake Hartwell. 

In fact, a lack of obstacles over water means less friction, so in some cases tornadic wind speeds may increase. 

3)  Tornadoes Don’t Occur in the mountains  

We often see storms break up over the mountains.  The higher terrain can disrupt the flow of warm, moist air into storms, causing them to weaken.  But there are occasions, depending on wind direction, where the terrain causes an increase in wind flow or even assist in rotation.  As a result, while tornadoes are less frequent, they still occur in the mountains and should be taken seriously. 

Every county in the Carolina Mountains has had a confirmed tornado touchdown since 1950 except for Mitchell County.    

4) Flash flooding only happens near rivers and streams  

When flooding occurs, we usually think about rivers, streams, or drainage ditches.  

Too much rain in too little time can also cause water to pile up in poor drainage or low-lying areas.    

One such place is the bridge over New Cut Road near Howard Street in Spartanburg, where in 2015 a woman drowned after driving her car into deep water.

Stay away from any rising water, wherever it is.  If water over a road is too deep to see the roadway, it’s too deep to try to drive through.  Turn around, don’t drown.  

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