When I first moved to Atlanta I was not prepared for summer thunderstorms. In California when it rains, it’s generally cold and miserable, so you bundle up in waterproof layers and heavy boots to keep out the rain. But what do you do when it’s HOT and humid? You don’t want to layer up the same way.
First, you’ll want some warm weather waterproof shoes. I really like waterproof ankle boots from Blondo (like these). These aren’t as clunky as winter boots or full rain boots, your leg will not be sweating inside, and they are more stylish and can be worn even when it’s not raining. I prefer a zipper boot rather for quicker on-off and not having to touch wet laces. For more casual wear or popping out with the dog, fully waterproof rubber or plastic sandals are great. For example jelly sandals or slides. These can be a little slippery since your feet are likely getting wet in these, but you can fully dry them off once you reach inside.
Next you’ll want an umbrella and a lightweight rain coat. In light rain, just one of the two will suffice, but if I personally had to choose one it would be umbrella. The umbrella will keep the rain from drenching you, and the light coat helps block any water blown at you from wind.
I typically pick up a new rainbow-printed umbrella from Target every few years (like this, but striped) because I don’t like anyone to walk off with mine. When this one runs its course, I’d like to give a better windproof umbrella like this one a try. A regular-size umbrella has the best balance of protection and portability in a bag or backpack, though the mini umbrellas are great to carry around in a purse or somewhere like a theme park.
Your next layer of defense is a good, lightweight rain jacket. Look for material that is specifically waterproof and not water-resistant because the latter will not hold up to a real rain storm as well. In warm weather, I like to combine a rain jacket and umbrella. The thinnest, most breathable rain jackets will keep you cooler but due to the thinness can feel cold or kind of unpleasant after they are wet. Likewise, my sturdier jackets are a too warm to wear in a summer thunderstorm.
Columbia has good options for both men and women. They also offer heavier interchangeable options that you can zip apart into separate fleece or shell layers. They are not cheap, but they are 3 jackets in one and I’ve had a version of the Bugaboo jacket for over 12 years now that is still in great condition. You can also typically find great rain gear on sale or well-priced at sporting goods stores, outlets, and stores like TJMaxx or Costco.
If possible, ensure all of your clothing will be appropriately covered or is quick to dry. For example, almost any other material dries faster than wet jeans. In summer thunderstorms, I like to pair a rain coat with shorts or a dress.
Another tip for the South is to wait it out if you have time. Thunderstorms are often patchy and intermittent. Check a weather app and a good portion of the time you can wait 20-30 minutes for the rain to let up a bit.
For a one-day special event (e.g., concert, amusement park), you may want to opt for a plastic poncho instead of the raincoat and umbrella. The plastic ones are really compact to carry around, but you can’t easily fold them up for reuse later.
Hope this helps for your next thunderstorm!