View Poll Results: What do you do when caught in a thunderstorm mid river?
Climb a nearby cottonwood tree to get a good view of the action. 1 1.85%
Sit on shore and wait for the storm to pass while thinking about the warm clothes you left in the car. 4 7.41%
Keep paddling, you wouldn't be much safer on the riverbank. 49 90.74%
Voters: 54. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-01-2005   #1
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
Barbecuing on the River

What's the safest plan when the clouds turn black, the lightning starts crashing and you're 3 miles from the take out? Conventional wisdom would suggest that if you are on a river, you are at the lowest local elevation, keep paddling. However, didn't your dad tell you to get the heck out of the water when lighting is flashing?

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Old 08-03-2005   #2
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 116
I only keep the fish if the pan is already hot.

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Old 08-03-2005   #3
prozoned's Avatar
the fort, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 140
keep paddlin til it starts hailing so hard u cant see three feet in front of u, then start paddlin ur ass off to finish the run

its pretty fun, u guys should try it
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Old 08-03-2005   #4
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
What brought this to mind was a substantial hail storm mid float. Thankfully, with a hemet, pfd, skirt and plastic boat I was well protected from the icy projectiles. When the storm hit, we pulled off to shore and started getting chilly, but returned to the river to warm up.

It's like when my GF asks if I'm still going boating when it's shitty out. I always tell her "It's not like the rain is gonna get me any wetter." I still don't think she gets it.
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Old 08-04-2005   #5
WhiteLightning's Avatar
Eagle County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 928
I've heard/used the reasoning of "lowest spot in the valley". Is there any merit to this? What about if you are in a raft with metal oar frame? I've done this in both my kayak and raft. Was stuck in a nasty one a week or two ago and we hauled ass to the take out for an hour or more much to the girls' dismay who were with us. I didn't feel like sitting under a tree, or standing in a field on the river bank were any better options. Any weather geeks out there with an answer?
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Old 08-04-2005   #6
Engineering Student
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 18
I have a good friend who guides for a rafting comp in Ft. Collins, - he told me they never take out for storms - especially thunderstorms with lightning. In the river, you are at the very lowest point in the whole canyon wich 99.99999999999% of the time = safest spot too. Other than flash flood danger, you should be absolutely fine. The only safer spot is in your car. Cars act like metal cages and if you know anything about electricity or engineering, the charge goes to the outside of a metallic object, so it goes right around you, through the frame, and down through your tires. Lots of people have been struck by lightning in their cars and except for big burn marks in their paint, are just fine. I would not camp out under a tree for cover though.
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Old 08-06-2005   #7
whip's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 516

Take a #10 Dutch oven. 12 briguets on the bottom, 8 on top = 350 degrees.
Add one for each additional 25 degrees needed. Add 1 brisket and a small bottle of Barbie sauce. YUMMY. If you store the dutch in the bow of your yak
you can do endo's till the cows come home!
No amount of money is worth your free time!
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Old 08-06-2005   #8
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C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
If it's hailing, I've been known to flip the raft over in the eddie and climb under it. If not, everyone stays much warmer, paddling hard to the take out.
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Old 08-06-2005   #9
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
I had lightening hit a hill 200 yards away (we saw the tree destroyed) once when I was on the side of the river. People in the water felt the zap--the kids ran for their moms. Lots of fish jumped. I was standing on the bank in rubber river shoes and felt nothing.

Based on what I've heard about lightening, here are my recommendations:
1) If you have a steep hill next to you, you are safe. The lightening will hit the hill. But, a 50 foot hill 1/4 mile away isn't good enough.
2) Lightening likes to go down trees. The thing to remember is that lightening spreads out from a tree hit about 20 feet.
3) Lightening really likes metal. A raft frame in an open area would make me real nervous.
4) A plastic boat or rubber raft probably provides extra protection when lightening hits a nearby hill. You won't get zapped as much as a swimmer.

So you are generally right that most rivers are in a steep valley and that will keep you safe. But, there are spots where the valley/river spreads out and there will be danger. The Westwater paddle out and sections of Pumphouse are probably examples.
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Old 08-06-2005   #10
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 206
Here's a couple of links on the matter..

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