SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV)- Warm summer days filled with beach and pool time are just around the corner. But so are the summer thunderstorms.

When planning your summer activities it’s always important to check the latest Storm Team forecast to know what to expect.

This time of the year we will talk about the risk of thunderstorms and severe weather.

What makes a thunderstorm severe?

Do you know the difference between a run-of-the-mill thunderstorm versus one containing wind gusts that could topple over trees, hail that can put dents in the hood of your car, or flooding rains that can knock you off your feet.

Those threats are what we talk about when you hear us mention “potential for strong to severe thunderstorms”. We assess the chances of strong gusty winds, flooding rain, hail, and tornadoes and tailor our forecast to how much of a threat there is.

When you see (or hear) the alerts come across your television screen or pop up on your cell phone, those are issued by the National Weather Service. They have a specific criteria a storm must meet for them to issue a warning on a thunderstorm.
-Are the wind gusts speeds greater than 58mph?
-Could there be hail 1″ in diameter or quarter-sized?
-Is there rotation that could be a tornado?
If the answer is yes to any of those questions then a warning is likely issued.

It’s always important the know the difference between a watch and a warning. Anytime a watch is issued, whether it’s for a flood, tornado, or thunderstorm, it means that conditions are favorable for this event to happen. You should have a plan in place to take action in case a warning is issued.

If a warning is issued, that means it’s happening or about to and action needs to be taken right now.

What if you’re away from your TV?

But, what if you’re out and about enjoying your summer fun and not near a tv or paying attention to your phone? Here are a few things that can signal that a storm may be on the way:
-Dark towering clouds building off in the distance
-The wind picks up
-The most obvious… you hear thunder and/or see lightning.
Those are your cues to check out the Live Doppler 9 app and see if a storm is heading for you.

Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors!