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Lightning storm

Old 05-22-18, 04:48 AM
  #1  
capper66
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Lightning storm

What do you do if you get caught on the trail or road when lightning strikes?

Obvious answer is to get inside but what if youíre in the middle of nowhere?
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Old 05-22-18, 05:48 AM
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If you donít plan on just trying to push through and arenít ready to set up camp for the night, string up a tarp and wait it out(assuming rain too). Donít use the tallest tree since it would be more likely to get hit by lighting than shorter ones. The shorter the better. Donít stay too close to the bike if you feel like getting struck by lightning is a risk. Lightening likes metal. Thatís what Iíd do anyway. If I were in such a crazy storm and lightening situation that I were scared and really concerned, Iíd get as low as possible and probably just huddle or lay under my tarp away from the taller objects nearby, but not in the middle of an open field or something. Find a Large ditch or lower ground if possible and hang out there until the lightening is no longer a concern(being aware of water concerns in heavy rain). Iíve never been in such a situation where I was too worried about getting struck, but thatís certainly not because lightning is no big deal. Iíd certainly respect it and be cautious if need be.
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Old 05-22-18, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by capper66 View Post
What do you do if you get caught on the trail or road when lightning strikes?

Obvious answer is to get inside but what if youíre in the middle of nowhere?
I've always had the same concern, the "what if"? In the end it's Situational Awareness, you need to be prepared, and know your options, how far to the next town, the next building, the next ditch. Should you take the shelter your passing at the moment or keep going hoping it will pass or you'll find something better. Most people push their luck with lightning, if you hear thunder you are in range, waiting to see it or trying to gauge distance/danger based on how loud the thunder is just working the odds.
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Old 05-22-18, 06:41 AM
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Basic stuff that you should have learned in grade school.

Get inside if you can.

If you can't avoid anything taller than you.
Try to get to an overpass or tunnel.
Last resort get as low as possible. Making sure you don't get into a dry creek bed or drainage ditch.

But the best think to do is not get caught aqt all. Do your homework before setting out.
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Old 05-22-18, 06:46 AM
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Do not take shelter in a ditch! People have been killed by arcing ground currents (from nearby strikes) in ditches, behind rocks, under shallow overhangs, even in doorways of buildings. Not to mention flash floods, as already mentioned above.

If in the open, it is best to seek generally lower ground away from tall objects, but also well away from any abrupt changes in terrain such as the lee side of a ridge or in a ditch.

Well under a highway overpass would be good.

If I can find a place to pitch my shelter when I'm touring, I'll definitely do that. When I'm cycling across open terrain surrounded by private property, I often find I have few options but to continue cycling, if only to generate heat and prevent hypothermia.

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 05-22-18, 06:59 AM
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I believe you are supposed to crouch & grab your ankles or something like that
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Old 05-22-18, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
I believe you are supposed to crouch & grab your ankles or something like that
The idea is to reduce your contact with the ground as much as possible but also getting a low as possible. . So you really don't want to lie down as this increases your ground contact.

And you probably don't want to be touching your bike while it is setting up on a kickstand.
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Old 05-22-18, 08:45 AM
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Look at my weather app in the morning. Always a good start.
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Old 05-22-18, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by capper66 View Post
What do you do if you get caught on the trail or road when lightning strikes?

Obvious answer is to get inside but what if youíre in the middle of nowhere?
Pray.

Saw the storm coming an hour after we left the last "town" in northern Colorado (was it two or three buildings?). No ditch, no tree, no house. The storm caught us, complete with thunder, lightning, and hail. Kept riding. Finally saw ranch buildings a mile off the road, and clear weather half a mile ahead. Rode to daylight.

Sometimes there's nothing else you can do.
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Old 05-22-18, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
The idea is to reduce your contact with the ground as much as possible. And you probably don't want to be touching your bike while it is setting up on a kickstand.
yeah, I had to resort to this. the most terrified I have ever been was on a hot sunny day riding a lonely Rt 117 west in Lincoln MA when a growling, crackling thunder storm brewed overhead. no rain at first & as it crackled right over my head passing left to right, I thought I would be struck at any second. then the torrential rain started. so bad I couldn't see. I stopped at a house. crouched in front of their wooden picket fence under a large shrub & assumed the position. then I noticed I wasn't far from their metal mailbox & prayed that it would not get struck. fortunately there was a much taller house with an actual observatory dome next to the garage. probably would have been OK to duck into the garage which I think they always keep open


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Old 05-22-18, 12:01 PM
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Rumrun - love your story! The fact that u have accompanying photo is even funnier!

Spinnaker - sounds easy to solve, but is not.
Ah, this reminds me of my tour thru eastern Canada some 11 yrs ago. I believe it was on Nova Scotia that a terrible thunderstorm arrived some time after falling asleep. I was free camping on a woman's lawn and awoke to the thunder. It got closer and closer and continued to hover overhead without moving for some three or so hours! This was not my first tour and I had always wondered if lightening will strike a tent with metal poles. After it began to pour, I dashed to the side of the house and stayed there for a bit. Then I decided I was on the wrong side according to wind direction, so moved to another side. I believe I returned to the tent, but at some point decided that wasn't a brilliant idea and dashed again to the house. You would have thought that this long, noisy storm would wake the woman and she'd invite me in, but no. Instead, once morning arrived, as I was packing up, she came out with her toy dog, asked if I'd survived the night, laughed and went back inside. I was later told that that storm was the remnant of a hurricane from down south. Don't know if it's true.
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Old 05-22-18, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by travelinhobo View Post
Rumrun - love your story! The fact that u have accompanying photo is even funnier!
I can chuckle now, sort of. one never forgets near death experiences
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Old 05-22-18, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Pray.

Saw the storm coming an hour after we left the last "town" in northern Colorado (was it two or three buildings?). No ditch, no tree, no house. The storm caught us, complete with thunder, lightning, and hail. Kept riding. Finally saw ranch buildings a mile off the road, and clear weather half a mile ahead. Rode to daylight.

Sometimes there's nothing else you can do.
LOL, I know how you feel, kinda. It's been pretty stormy here in Colorado, for awhile now, especially about the last week. I've seen sheet lightning before, but nothing like this. 😮
But it depends where you are at any point, where the worst weather is. 😁
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Old 05-22-18, 08:33 PM
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We had been experiencing thunder storms all night, but we decided to give it a go in the morning. These pictures were taken at 10:00 am, and I was digging out our ground cloth that we used to wrap up in as the brunt of the storm came over. That is actually how dark it really was. If I was in Nebraska instead of The Netherlands, I would have been a little more anxious than I was We had 35 days of rain on this tour.



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Old 05-23-18, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
Look at my weather app in the morning. Always a good start.
Yes a good start, but often not as useful as you might like. I know that when we crossed the US on our first trip there was a chance of thunderstorms pretty much every day for a major portion of the trip and there were many times when there was pretty much nothing for many miles. We would have just stayed in camp every day in a lot of the West and the Great Plains if we didn't ride at times when we were likely to see lightning in a remote stretch of road.

I take shelter when I can and when I can't I decide between just getting low or trying to ride out of the storm to minimize the time that I am exposed to the risk. Sometimes there just isn't a good answer and you need to choose the least bad one.
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Old 05-23-18, 09:28 AM
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Does anyone have any actual stats on cyclists being hit by lightning?

I cycled to work this morning through a thunderstorm. The only impact it had was that I didn't take the more scenic route through some sand dunes and a forest more for fear of getting wetter than I already was.

Can't imagine my boss being too understanding if i told him I was waiting it out! :-)
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Old 05-23-18, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour View Post
the more scenic route through some sand dunes and a forest
wow that sounds nice!
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Old 05-23-18, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
wow that sounds nice!
I'm really blessed! A 22 km commute. about 5 km in the city, the rest in the countryside. I have a choice of routes. Sometimes coming home I'll take the long way involving a canal, a forest, the aforementioned dunes, and if I'm feeling more adventurous I can do some MTB trails too!
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Old 05-23-18, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour View Post
I'm really blessed! A 22 km commute. about 5 km in the city, the rest in the countryside. I have a choice of routes. Sometimes coming home I'll take the long way involving a canal, a forest, the aforementioned dunes, and if I'm feeling more adventurous I can do some MTB trails too!
Got Pictures?

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Old 05-23-18, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Yes a good start, but often not as useful as you might like. I know that when we crossed the US on our first trip there was a chance of thunderstorms pretty much every day for a major portion of the trip and there were many times when there was pretty much nothing for many miles. We would have just stayed in camp every day in a lot of the West and the Great Plains if we didn't ride at times when we were likely to see lightning in a remote stretch of road.

I take shelter when I can and when I can't I decide between just getting low or trying to ride out of the storm to minimize the time that I am exposed to the risk. Sometimes there just isn't a good answer and you need to choose the least bad one.
OK, some good points. New England guy here. Have not pedaled in the way out and open west. Weather under ground has some pretty specific and detailed maps that I find very helpful, Wind and storm direction and timing/speed. Not a guarantee but gives me some kind of direction to go and to avoid.
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Old 05-23-18, 12:50 PM
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I push through unless it's to windy. Look for a place to get out of the weather, and if there is none wait it out, and get soaked!.
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Old 05-23-18, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by TheRef View Post
Got Pictures?
What is this place? A dating site?
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Old 05-23-18, 05:47 PM
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hide under the bike
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Old 05-23-18, 08:34 PM
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This was a little worrying when it rolled into Weyburn Sask.

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Old 05-23-18, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
This was a little worrying when it rolled into Weyburn Sask.

Isn't that an example of why they call Saskatchewan "The Land of the Living Sky"?
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