Hundreds of people die every year in tornados, floods and lightning storms.
Even with sophisticated radars and warning systems, you can suddenly find yourself trapped in severe weather, sometimes without sufficient shelter.
Recently, America Now met up with a professional storm chaser and meteorologist to find out how to 'read' the sky and stay safe.
"It takes a lot of training and a lot of experience to know how to read the sky," said Gerard Jebaily, who is a meteorologist and storm chaser.
Jebaily says there are some tried and true weather-watching tricks everyone should know.
Out on the road, he uses high-tech radar to see what's happening high above the clouds, but he relies on his own two eyes to spot from ground level the first sign of a bad storm, which is called a rope cloud.
The taller and darker the rope cloud, the stronger the storm behind it, in most cases.
Consider it your first visual warning to seek shelter, because by the time your second warning occurs or lightning streaking across the sky, you will most likely already be in danger of a strike.
A car is one of the safest places to be during lightning because the metal serves as a protective cage.
If a storm occurs when a home or vehicle is not available for you to seek shelter, you should keep your feet together and crunch down.
The odds are that a strike will pass by you instead of traveling up one leg and down the other.
Lightning is a good storm tracker. After you see a flash, count the seconds until you hear the thunder.
If you are curious as to how far away the storm is, divide the number of seconds you count by five to get the number of miles.
Then, get moving to shelter.
Now that you know how to read the sky and stay safe from a lightning strike, experts recommend you leave the storm chasing to the pros.
Chances are when you see their radar up and they're speeding down the road, you'll want to be driving in the opposite direction.
"It may not be a wise idea to follow me everywhere I go, that's for sure," Jebaily said.
NOAA's National Weather Service trains people all across the country as trained severe weather spotters.
These volunteers help keep their communities safe by sending reports from right outside their door back to the National Weather Service.
If you want to learn more about becoming a professional eye-in-the-sky, you can volunteer with Skywarn. Click here for more information (http://skywarn.org/about/).
The following information is from Meteorologist Gerard Jebaily. Click here to access his website.
The following information is from Dr. Mathew Eastin, a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The following information is from Skywarn's website in an article entitled "Severe Weather Safety Guide" (Source: http://spotterguides.us/safety.htm).
The following information is from the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office website in an article entitled "Storm Spotter Reference Guide" (Source: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/spotter_reference/).
Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.
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