Weather Hazards to Watch for While Outdoors

Posted: March 15, 2018 | Author: Kevin Koontz | Read Time: 2 minutes

Bell tower on snowy campusBe mindful of the weather when hiking and participating in outdoor activity. Weather hazards include tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, and winter weather. It is important to identify warnings and dangers for each and know what to do when one is encountered.

Nine Weather Hazards and Warning Signs


Warnings: thunder, sudden cloudburst or enormous raindrops or hailstones, fast-moving cold-fronts, signs of highly charged air

Dangers: burns, shock, cardiac arrest, muscle spasms, brain and nerve damage, ruptured eardrums, death

What To Do: spread out, stay away from tall trees and water, lightning position (crouch) on top of your pack or boulder resting on top of other boulders

Flash Floods

Warnings: water suddenly gets deeper, faster, muddier, or beings carrying twigs, needles, or leaves; heavy storm in the area

Dangers: fast, high flowing water out of nowhere; swept off feet, abrasions, drowning, death

What To Do: immediately get to higher ground, evacuate to safe location


Warnings: high temperatures, dry terrain, windy, low humidity, dry lightning, unstable air

Dangers: smoke and ash inhalation, sever burns, death

What To Do: evacuate immediately, get to a safe area


Warnings: dark, often grey sky; wall clouds and approaching clouds of debris; large hail in absence of rain, calm before the storm

Dangers: flying debris, violent winds, severe body and property damage, death

What To Do: seek shelter; if no shelter, lie flat and face down on low ground; cover your head and neck with arms, get away from trees and cars


Warnings: no known signs, use caution

Dangers: extreme ground shaking, falling debris, liquefaction, flooding, fires, injury, death

What To Do: stay put, move away from buildings and other objects, remain calm until shaking stops, do not panic

Dust Storm

Warnings: giant wall of debris and dust approaching, high winds

Dangers: reduced visibility, flying debris, eye damage, respiratory problems, high winds, death

What To Do: seek coverage, go indoors if possible, pull over if in car, wait out the storm

Extreme Heat

Warnings: extreme high temperature, dry, hot, humid

Dangers: heat exhaustion, heat stroke, headache, dizziness, fatigue, rapid heart rate, unconsciousness, death

What To Do: cool off immediately, ice water immersion, hydrate, shade

High Winds

Warnings: unequal heating from the sun; high pressures move into low pressures; the bigger the difference between high and low pressure, the higher the wind speed

Dangers: flying debris, downed trees and broken branches; death

What To Do: find shelter, take cover inside if possible, stay clear of loose objects, stay away from trees

Hail Storm

Warnings: thunderstorm clouds present, gray clouds, rain, thunder, lightning, high moisture content and cloud layer at freezing temperatures

Dangers: welts, bodily injury, traumatic brain injury (TBI), death

What To Do: find shelter, cover up with any gear around if outside, wait out storm


Visit SUU Outdoors or contact the Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative (IIC) for more information.

This article was published more than 5 years ago and might contain outdated information or broken links. As a result, its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

Tags: Outdoor Recreation Outdoors SUU Outdoors

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