Camping and lightening

Northern Dancer

Well-Known Member
Messages
468
Points
63

2958

Scary stuff!

Especially when you are told, "There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm."
More than sixty-five percent of injuries and deaths by lightning occur when people are participating in outdoor recreation activities. That means that people like us as well as the hikers and bicyclists are among those most commonly affected by lightning. Males are at the top of the list and are often struck during a thunderstorm when they are in open areas [ground current] or when taking shelter under trees [side flash].

So in lightening of the circumstance what can you do?
The First thing you need to do is have the facts correct - scientifically backed and not based on your personal whims. A lot of people have been killed through their own ignorance and crass behavours. Unfortunately, they have taken down others with them.

To get the facts, picking up an inexpensive guide is not a bad idea - there are a lot of good ones on sale. Your local camp supply store usually has a book or two. Some of the best resources we have at hand are our governments. Check out the weather reporting sites and other weather reporting systems as a start.

Here are a few you can check out [your local library is a good resource].
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Having said that here are a few other suggestions.

Pay attention to your attention.
Watch the weather and know when storms develop in the local area.
I know when I'm at Red Pine there are some weather conditions that are peculiar to that region.
Plan to be away from high-risk areas such as peaks, ridges, and higher terrain before a thunderstorm arrives.
If you hear thunder while climbing on an exposed mountain or ridge move to lower ground quickly.
Avoid open areas that are 300 feet wide or wider.
Look for a dry ravine or depression before a storm hits and spread out to reduce multiple injuries.
Avoid trees with large trunks if the lighting is striking close by.
Avoid setting up your tent under an isolated tree or the tallest tree, close to a metal fence, or on a hilltop.
Lying on the ground in a tent during a lightning storm would maximize the chances of being hurt.
Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
If no shelter is available, crouch low, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible.
Lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 feet away.

2963

Not a good idea to be standing under this fella.

"Your experience is important to us!"
Share your ideas and experiences with the greater community.

 

Roybrew

Well-Known Member
Messages
761
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63
Excellent advice. My camping, almost always, involves fishing or canoeing. When I hear thunder or see lightning I'm getting off the water and out of the boat. I definitely don't want to be the tallest thing out there. I've seen the destruction when lightning strikes a big solid tree like an oak tree. The electricity followed and blew the roots apart for up to 20 feet away.
I have read, in a conoeing book by Cliff Jacobson, that if you are caught out on the water during a thunderstorm, and have no way to get on the bank, then if a cliff or tall trees on the bank average 100 feet tall, you should stay just inside of 30 feet from the bank. 30 degrees out from the tallest structure on the bank. If I stated it properly Is this correct?

I've never been in that situation before, but there are lots of places on these lakes here where the banks are to steep to get safely away from the water
 

Northern Dancer

Well-Known Member
Messages
468
Points
63
Excellent advice. My camping, almost always, involves fishing or canoeing. When I hear thunder or see lightning I'm getting off the water and out of the boat. I definitely don't want to be the tallest thing out there. I've seen the destruction when lightning strikes a big solid tree like an oak tree. The electricity followed and blew the roots apart for up to 20 feet away.
I have read, in a canoeing book by Cliff Jacobson, that if you are caught out on the water during a thunderstorm, and have no way to get on the bank, then if a cliff or tall trees on the bank average 100 feet tall, you should stay just inside of 30 feet from the bank. 30 degrees out from the tallest structure on the bank. If I stated it properly Is this correct?

I've never been in that situation before, but there are lots of places on these lakes here where the banks are too steep to get safely away from the water
=====> This is the problem. When things are normal we can apply just about anything and sometimes something is better than nothing. I got caught in a storm. [More than one actually.] I could see and hear it coming and I darted to the shore. Just when I was in range it broke into a fury and in reality, it was so strong it was absolutely impossible for me to control and canoe in the midst of it to be frantically thinking of keeping it 30 feet offshore. With some struggle getting through a marshy shoreline, I banked the canoe. I headed into the forest as deep as I could, found a small tree, sat down, and opened my umbrella. I was soaked in no time flat. When it passed and I had waited the prescribed time I went back to my canoe. It took me thirty minutes to sponge out the water. I was lucky to get into the forest because so often it is so thick you can't do that. Shorelines don't always lend themselves to our urgent need to get off the water.

What I should have done was to get the weather report before starting out. The area that I canoe does have good reception. If I hadn't had the device I should have been paying more attention to the changing conditions.

But then again...I've learned over the years to stop "shoulding on myself." :Cool:

 

ppine

Forester
Messages
3,656
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113
Location
Minden, NV
Lightening can be bad. Good advice to get off the water and find low spots away from tall trees. I like rock outcrops to hid in.

The worst cases of lightening I have experienced has been up high in the Rocky Mountains. In summer it often rains every afternoon around 4:00. Some of those storms can have terrible lightening and some of it hits the ground.

One morning we had our camp in Colorado packed up just as the lightening started. We were horseback with a string of mules and trying to get over the Continental Divide. Lightening was hitting the ground near were we wanted to cross over. We had no choice but to just stand in the rain and wait for it to subside. After about an hour, the sky became quiet. We headed over the Divide at around 10,800 feet which took about 45 minutes. We got to the other side, dropped down 1,500 feet. The lightening started up again hitting the Pass. It felt like we had dodged a bullet by being patient. The horses and mules got very jumpy and were happy to get to a lower quieter elevation.
 
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