(WTNH) - Hurricanes aside, sometimes the summer's most extreme weather is its most average. We're talking thunderstorms, flash floods and brush fires. Oppressive heat and humidity can be just as menacing.
"When it is 90 degrees and high humidity, our bodies think its 100, 105, sometimes 110," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin said, "and that's when our bodies have to work really hard to stay cool."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat causes more deaths than any other weather-related phenomena in the U.S.
"It's on those days that we see the most death, heat strokes, all these bad things that can happen when we get too much heat," MacLaughlin said.
That includes trouble with the air we breathe. "Humidity really helps to trap a lot of that ground level ozone," MacLaughlin said.
Heat from the sun can also generate hazards.
"You get a little breeze combined with that giant heating lamp called the sun, everything dries out quickly," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Gil Simmons said.
That creates the potential for brush fires. Hard to control, they pop up in an instant.
"We can get one or two inches of rain in one week and at the end of that week the ground level -- the top layer where everything is sitting -- can dry out enough so you can have a forest fire," Simmons said.
Wind fans the flames. "The wind makes it very tricky to forecast fire wise where a fire could go," Simmons said.
Thunderstorms offer some relief, but with it come real dangers too.
"People don't realize that thunderstorms can produce very strong and damaging winds," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Steve Villanueva said.
They are known as straight-line winds. Heavy rain pushes strong winds down, causing air to evaporate and cool. When the air drops to the ground it can shoot out.
"They are a lot more common, but they can also be very dangerous, lead to fatalities," he said. "It's never the winds that get you. It's the damage and the debris that will cause the fatalities.
Another risk? Lightning.
"Lightning is always going to be a potentially deadly weapon," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Erica Grow said.
In 2008, one person was killed and four were injured after a pavilion at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison was struck by lightning.
"The lightning can come through the sides of the building since there aren't any walls there, or if it hits the top it can travel through those pillars and just being close enough to that much of a charge can be enough to kill you," she said.
In addition to the sparks that fly in the sky, heavy downpours can produce flash flooding, especially in areas with lots of pavement.
"All this water gathers together like a funnel and continues to run off until it finds that nearest storm drain, which can at times be clogged up," Simmons said.
In 2006, a woman died after driving her car into a flooded underpass.
"You get all this water runoff, you can't tell how deep it is when its pooled up in a certain areas," he said, a forgotten threat that needs to be remembered.
"When you see a flooded road or a flooded underpass just stop and turn around, don't drown."
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