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Lightning storm

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Lightning storm

Old 05-24-18, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
Isn't that an example of why they call Saskatchewan "The Land of the Living Sky"?
I guess so! That was a very strange formation when it came in, like a horizontal tornado. The cloud was rolling in on itself like it was alive. Such a sense of power and drama

Prairie storms are one thing I really miss, having lived for a time in Calgary. I used to love sitting under shelter at a coffee shop and watching them unfold.
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Old 05-25-18, 03:55 PM
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Back in the early 80's I was USAF stationed at MacDill AFB in Tampa. I was 23-24ish I think. I lived a couple miles north of the stadium, and the base was a straight shot 10 miles, which I rode every day, rain or shine. Fact is, I relished the rain and the lightning. It always cooled me off and felt good. The light show was a bonus, especially if the lightning struck close or was close overhead!
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Old 05-28-18, 08:32 AM
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Here's some "official" advice from a Dutch cycling website.
(Translated from the Dutch if it reads a little weird)

Are you safe on a bike in thunderstorms? Absolutely not! 21 survival tips
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Many people mistakenly think that you are safe on a bicycle through the rubber tires. A bicycle is not a Faraday cage (a metal enclosed whole), as is the case with a car. In the case of a car, the load is immediately removed and you do not run any risk in the event of a thunderstorm.

Lightning affects about 1 in every two million people a year. Surprisingly, a considerable number of those affected survive this fortunately! The consequences can nevertheless be very serious. One in three lightning victims is killed. The rest is released with the fright but usually also has severe burns in the places where the current invaded and left the body. Lightning often causes considerable internal injury and if the nervous system is affected, there may be speech loss, motor disorders, temporary paralysis and even permanent changes in personality. When you are on the bike during thunderstorms, you run a greater risk. We therefore give you 21 good tips to protect you as a cyclist against a lightning strike.

The best tips and dangers of lightning when you are on the bike:

Always get off the bike, on a bike you are not safe (not even by the rubber tires)
Stay away from high points and make sure you are not the highest point yourself!
Do not sit or sit under a tree or lamppost
In the open field: crouch and sit together with feet together. A lightning strike will also give off its power to the environment through the ground
Put the bike down to its standard a bit further down ie move away from the bike
Make sure you are not close to a fence or other metal object
Never lie flat on the ground
If possible, take shelter in a sturdy building
Make sure you do not sit together with a group of bicycles and cyclists
Preferably go looking for a pit or ditch to start squatting
Do not use an umbrella
You can be hit by flying objects such as branches or hailstones as big as golf balls
Do not be afraid to get wet, if you are hit, then wet clothing leads the lightning better than your own body
A hissing sound indicates immediate lightning danger.
Remove chains and jewelry
Do not hold your phone in your hand
Do not hold the bicycle during the shelter
Do not call mobile
Are you driving on an e-bike? Then switch off your electric bike
The lightning of the lightning is particularly bright and a near impact can be blinding
Remove any headphones from your ears
Is the storm approaching? Use your time to find a good shelter (do not go home or drive your destination
Do not panic if you can not find a shelter. Even if you cycle through, the risk of being hit is still relatively low
How do you determine how far away the lightning is?
Count the number of seconds between seeing the lightning until you hear the thunder in the distance. Divide this number by three. The outcome is the distance in kilometers (approximately). A thunderstorm often moves quickly, so use your remaining time to find a shelter in time.

In the Netherlands, it averages no less than 34 to 38 days per year. Chances are you will have to deal with thunder on your bike!

Link here: https://www.fietsen123.nl/fietsnieuw...t-20-overlevin
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Old 05-29-18, 05:59 AM
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From the above: "Preferably go looking for a pit or ditch to start squatting."

Maybe it's a translation issue, but as I mentioned earlier this is bad advice. Do not look for a pit or a ditch in the ground for shelter from lightning. Ground currents in the earth during a nearby strike create high voltage in the earth, which can arc across openings and gaps. The voltage can also exceed safe levels between your feet or along the length of your body, which is why you squat with feet together and don't lie down.

Otherwise the advice looks sound for a cyclist, and thanks for the post. I never use earbuds, but also never thought of the affect of them in a lightning strike. I also like to try to convince myself my filthy wet tires are good insulators.
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Old 05-29-18, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post

I never use earbuds, but also never thought of the affect of them in a lightning strike.
I wonder if that's how Frankenstein got started? 🤔 Or rather, his creation.
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Old 05-30-18, 11:49 AM
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When you think about the fact that we hear regularly about golfers getting hit by lightening, but we never hear about cyclists or tenters, I'd have to say it's a rare occurance.
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Old 05-30-18, 12:01 PM
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I read a story years ago about a recon squad in Vietnam who found themselves on top of a hill in the middle of a thunderstorm, waiting on evac as the Vietnamese closed in on their position. The radio guy keyed up the radio mike and there was a lightning strike that hit the antenna. The lightning detonated all the grenades and such and there were significant injuries and possibly a couple KIA (but it's been 20 years since I read this so maybe not).

I have no idea if this story is true or not. As a veteran myself, I take most war stories with a wheelbarrow full of salt.

But the thought that electrical signals can attract lightning has stuck with me through the years. I try to avoid thunderstorms but every once in a while I might get caught in the rain, maybe the forecast was wrong or I forgot to check or something. I always turn off my cell phone (completely powered down, not just airplane mode) and bike computer.

I also have no idea if this helps in any way, but I figure it can't hurt and it makes me feel slightly better.
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Old 05-30-18, 12:39 PM
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Weather forecasting is still an inexact science!

My wife and I had a community event scheduled that we were coordinating, and three different forecasting services predicted 60% chance of thunderstorms and higher chance of rain all day, just 24 hours in advance, and the day turned out to be bright, sunny and dry.

So yes, it's more accurate than it used to be, but still not reliably accurate.

Regarding lightning, there are approximately 40-50 people killed in the United States by lightning each year, and up to ten times as many that are injured. Where you are located is also a huge factor - Wyoming seems to be the most dangerous, followed by the other mountain states and the southeast U.S.

Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
With the ease of getting accurate weather forecasts in much of the world, as well as good maps, it's often possible to plan your day to lessen exposure to the risk.
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Old 05-30-18, 01:00 PM
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Checking the weather app only works if you do it every couple of hours, assuming you have reception. Here in New England we can have sunshine and warmth all morning long and in the evening - or even afternoon - we'll get hyper-localized, fast-traveling (60mph!) thunderstorms with tree-toppling winds, hail, and torrential downpours. It could be sunshine all day, with a random t-storm rolling through and then sunshine and rainbows (literally). Usually, the forecast predicts them very well, often one can tell from the humidity in the air that there might be rain in the evening, but oftentimes, just like @rumrunn6 conveys in his story, they come out of nowhere.

I don't know how trustworthy this website is but if you believe the pictures, lightning doesn't care about a. tallest object b. metal vs. non-metal
Lightning Myths - Lightning always strikes the tallest object

My understanding always was that if you're anywhere near a lightning strike, you're hosed (heat, ground current, and something new I learned about called "side flash")

https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-myths Probably the most trustworthy place for lightning facts. Ahh, here it is - you're hosed:

Myth: If you're caught outside during a thunderstorm, you should crouch down to reduce your risk of being struck.
Fact: Crouching doesn't make you any safer outdoors. Run to a substantial building or hard topped vehicle. If you are too far to run to one of these options, you have no good alternative. You are NOT safe anywhere outdoors. See our safety page for tips that may slightly reduce your risk.
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Old 05-30-18, 01:02 PM
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Our planning and weather-forecast-watching were all for naught when I rode the GAP a couple of years ago. All three weather apps (NWS, Accuweather, and the Weather Network) called for three days of near-perfect weather for the three days we planned to ride for each of our stops, right up to the morning of our start. The reality turned into something else. Day 1, we ran in and out of rain for a couple of hours and then it stopped. We made our way to our first night's stay at a B&B.

Day 2 found us waking up to sullen skies. The rain started before we even got out of Connellsville on our way to Rockwood. We rode in rain for an hour or so and started joking about the scene from "Young Frankenstein:" "Could be worse, could be raining." Except we substituted lightning for raining. Literally, within minutes of cracking this joke, it started crashing down around us. Having reservations at another B&B and with no other way to get to our destination, we pressed on. Who would have thought we would be getting so cold for so long in the middle of July? The lightning stopped but the rain continued for about 5 hours total.

Day 3 had us wake up to bright sunny skies with warm temperatures and we finally had the weather that had been forecast for the entire trip. It all added to a memorable trip! So much for planning, though. The front that was supposed to stall well south of us made it farther north, then stalled essentially right over the length of the GAP.

Last edited by Altair 4; 05-30-18 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 06-01-18, 08:17 AM
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I mostly take a fatalistic approach and keep riding though I have taken shelter at underpasses, porches, etc. when available. Here in the desert southwest I fear large hail as much as lightning as there is often NO shelter.

Once while commuting, I had lightning strike close enough to shock me through my brake lever and fry the network adapter on the computer that was in my pannier. Yikes!
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Old 06-01-18, 10:28 AM
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I figure the odds are low unless you are the tallest thing around (or are standing underneath it). I can understand how it happens to golfers, out in the open with a metal rod in their hands, and I likely would seek shelter if I were biking along open land, but my main concern is visibility: my own and any vehicles that might pass me. I have no desire to ride in downpour, and would likely seek shelter as long as I thought it would pass soon. Same with lightning, unless I'm on the plains, in a field, etc., I'm unlikely to freak out about it.

Last week I was biking through Ohio. I knew all day that I'd be racing the storms to camp, and I just got set up, and was starting to eat when the rain started. Spent the next several hours in my hammock listening to the pouring rain, the thunder, and watching the lightning light up my tarp. I suppose the smartest thing would have been to take shelter in the bath house, but I really thought the odds of a lightning strike were pretty remote. The campground was on the edge of a lake, and was therefore at a slightly lower elevation than the surrounding land. My trees were not especially tall. Maybe I was wrong to tough it out, but I thought the odds of a lightning strike were considerably small even with the storm overhead. There seemed like there had to be a lot better targets than me: Taller trees, motor homes, bigger structures. Still, I did not sleep well, if at all, until the storms passed around 2am, and my weather app, which also tells me the nearest lightning strike, did not share my opinion that there was unlikely to be a strike in my immediate vicinity, but then I don't know how it makes those measurements. If there was a strike as close as it said, it seems like I would have noticed something.

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