UPDATE: Thunderstorms with nickel-sized hail in North Texas Tuesday

The National Weather Service issued an updated weather alert at 4:37 p.m. on Tuesday, warning residents of strong thunderstorms until 5 p.m. The alert is for Dallas, Kaufman and Ellis counties.

The storms are expected to bring nickel-sized hail (0.88 inches).

"At 4:37 p.m., Doppler radar tracked a strong thunderstorm near Ferris, or 8 miles south of Seagoville, moving east at 55 mph," says the NWS. "Minor damage to outdoor objects is possible."

Expect strong thunderstorms in the following locations:

• Crandall and Combine around 4:45 p.m.

• Kaufman around 4:50 p.m.

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

This alert is in effect until 5 p.m.

What to do as threat of lightning approaches?

Lightning hits the United States approximately 25 million times annually. The majority of these strikes happen during the summer, causing around 20 fatalities each year, according to the NWS. The likelihood of lightning increases as a thunderstorm gets closer and reaches its highest point when the storm is directly overhead. This risk decreases as the storm moves away.

Here are tips on how to stay safe during a thunderstorm:

• To reduce the chance of being struck by lightning, when venturing outside, have a plan to get to a safer area.

• If the sky grows ominous and you hear thunder, seek out a safe place to take 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:

• Steer clear of open fields, hilltops, or ridge tops.

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

• If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members.

• If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine, or other low area. Remember, a tent offers no protection from lighting.

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

What steps to follow when driving in the rain?

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

• While driving — Stick to the middle lanes and stay on elevated ground. Rainwater tends to accumulate at the road edges.

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

• Give ample space to large vehicles — Trucks or buses can create a water spray that diminishes visibility.

• Avoid flooded areas — When encountering a flooded road, do a U-turn and head back. The strong currents from flash floods can pull drivers off roadways. Driving through deep water can also negatively affect a vehicle's mechanical and electrical systems.

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning is the term for when a vehicle begins sliding uncontrollably 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 most commonly attributed to 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