Be prepared for strong thunderstorms in North Texas Tuesday midday

The National Weather Service issued a weather alert at 11:16 a.m. on Tuesday, warning residents of strong thunderstorms until noon. The alert is for Parker, Tarrant, Hood and Johnson counties.

Residents may experience wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

"At 11:16 a.m., Doppler radar tracked strong thunderstorms along a line extending from near Western Lake to near Squaw Creek Reservoir. Movement was east at 30 mph," states the NWS. "Gusty winds could knock down tree limbs and blow around unsecured objects."

Expect strong thunderstorms in the following locations:

• Granbury, Western Lake, Oak Trail Shores, and Squaw Creek Reservoir around 11:20 a.m.

• Pecan Plantation around 11:25 a.m.

• Annetta around 11:35 a.m.

• Aledo around 11:40 a.m.

• Godley around 11:45 a.m.

This includes Interstate 20 between mile markers 422 and 431.

Other impacted locations include Stockton Bend, Dennis, Annetta South, Mambrino, Tolar, Benbrook Lake, Lake Granbury, Acton, Waples and Tin Top.

The NWS states, "If outdoors, consider seeking shelter inside a building."

This alert is in effect until noon.

How to react when facing a lightning hazard?

Around 25 million lightning strikes occur in the United States every year, with most taking place during the summer months. The NWS reports that these strikes result in about 20 fatalities annually. The probability of lightning strikes rises as a thunderstorm approaches and peaks when the storm is directly above. As the storm moves away, this likelihood decreases.

Here are recommendations for maintaining safety during a thunderstorm:

• To minimize risk of being struck by lightning, when going outside, have a plan to get to a safer place.

• If the sky becomes menacing and thunder becomes audible, seek out a safe place to seek shelter.

• Once inside, abstain from touching corded phones, electrical devices, plumbing, and windows and doors.

• Wait for 30 minutes after the final lightning or thunder before heading outside again.

If finding indoor shelter is not an option:

• Avoid open fields, hill peaks, or ridge tops.

• Avoid tall, isolated trees or other elevated objects. If you are in a forest, stick to areas with shorter tree cover.

• When in a group, space out to prevent the current from transferring between individuals.

• If you are camping in an open space, choose a valley, ravine, or low area for your campsite. Remember, tents do not shield you from lightning.

• Maintain a safe distance from water, wet items, and metal objects. Water and metal do not attract lightning, yet they conduct electricity efficiently.

What to do in the rain on the road?

• Turn on your headlights — Even when it's light outside, using headlights can improve visibility and alert other drivers to your presence.

• On the road — Drive in the middle lanes and stay on high ground. Rainwater tends to stockpile on the edges of roads.

• Steer clear of puddles — Driving into puddles or low areas of rainwater can cause vehicles to hydroplane or skid out of control.

• Don't tail large vehicles closely — Trucks or buses can kick up a water spray that obstructs visibility.

• Avoid flooded zones — If you encounter a flooded road, make a U-turn and go back. The powerful currents of flash floods can carry drivers off the road. Driving through deep water can also damage a vehicle's mechanical and electrical systems.

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is when a vehicle starts uncontrollably sliding on wet roads.

This happens when water in front of the tire builds up faster than the vehicle’s weight can push water out of the way. The water pressure then causes the vehicle to rise and slide on a thin layer of water between the tires and the road, making the driver lose control. Hydroplaning is primarily caused by three factors:

1. Vehicle speed — When a vehicle’s speed increases, the tire-traction grip and ability to control the vehicle decreases. Drive at a reduced speed during wet weather.

2. Water depth — The deeper the water, the sooner a vehicle loses traction on the road. It doesn’t matter how deep the water is, even a thin layer can lead to hydroplaning.

3. Tire tread depth — Checking your tire tread before hitting the road is important, as low or no tread can lead to sliding.

In the event of your vehicle hydroplaning, here’s what to know:

• Ease off the accelerator — Step off the gas to slow down the vehicle until the tires find traction.

• Turn into the skid — Turning into the skid can help the vehicle’s tires realign to regain control.

• Make sure the tires reconnect with the road — During the skid, wait until the tires reconnect with the road and then gently straighten the wheels to regain control.

• Brake gently as needed — Brake normally if the vehicle has anti-lock brakes and pump brakes gently if in an older vehicle.

Source: The National Weather Service