On the river during Thunderstorm?... - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 07-26-2007   #1
 
rockinRio's Avatar
 
Thornton, Colorado
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On the river during Thunderstorm?...

This came up last weekend while on the river watching a storm roll in on top of us and again yesterday.

What is the consensus about being on the river during a thunderstorm.

Personally I love it when it rains and I'm on the river. But is there any danger to being there during a Thunder/Lighting storm?

What saith the buzzards?

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Old 07-26-2007   #2
 
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockinRio View Post
This came up last weekend while on the river watching a storm roll in on top of us and again yesterday.

What is the consensus about being on the river during a thunderstorm.

Personally I love it when it rains and I'm on the river. But is there any danger to being there during a Thunder/Lighting storm?

What saith the buzzards?
Since you're typically lower than evrything else, I would think you're safer on the water than on the bank or (duh) standing under a tree...

Stay in your (rubber) boat and enjoy the storm
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Old 07-26-2007   #3
 
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Deep gorge, I wouldn't sweat it. Paddle in to Gore, I'd be more concerned.
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Old 07-26-2007   #4
 
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While you are lower than most of your surroundings, you are also the highest point on the river (and most of us wear conductive carbonfiber brain buckets and paddles). A lot of it depends on your surroundings and how close the lightning is. Don't know the URL but NOLS has a really good guide to the danger and where the safest place to be is give certain circumstances. Personally, I will paddle until the lighting is within a mile unless I am in the middle of a plain or large lake-like area. If it gets really close, you are safer under a nearby tree as long as it's not the only one or the tallest in the area. I believe that lightning has a lethal current to a radius of about 20 feet, so even if you don't get hit, you don't want to be sitting under the tree that does get hit. I was paddling in the crazy lightning storm on Sunday and having a great time until it got within about a mile, at which point I high tailed it to the car .

https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f...iver-5916.html

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Old 07-26-2007   #5
 
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Originally Posted by COUNT View Post
If it gets really close, you are safer under a nearby tree as long as it's not the only one or the tallest in the area. I believe that lightning has a lethal current to a radius of about 20 feet, so even if you don't get hit, you don't want to be sitting under the tree that does get hit. I was paddling in the crazy lightning storm on Sunday and having a great time until it got within about a mile, at which point I high tailed it to the car .

https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f...iver-5916.html

COUNT
I thought trees were the most dangerous place to be in lightning? I was always taught that the best place is away from trees, perhaps in a depression or ditch. I've been in some big midwestern storms and next to tornadoes, and we always got sent to the ditches. Picture anything that resembles a lightning rod in shape (like a tree), and stay away. Get flat, get low.

Water is highly conductive, so I get out of it when lightning is around. If you are in water it can hit a long ways away and affect you, on the ground the distance is much smaller.

I wouldn't put a lot of confidence in the raft protecting me, oars have metal inside them, even if we aren't touching the metal.
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Old 07-26-2007   #7
 
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Lightning will seek out the highest thing, sort of...

So the Top of the Canyon will most likely get it. Lightning will travel down a Crack in a rock... or a Tree...

There is an 'angle' of safety from the top of a structure or cliff wall, a bit less than 45 dgrees as I recall. More like 30 Degrees...

So being on a lake is bad, particularly in a Sailboat with a lightning rod centered on the boat. You are the Highest point.

In a Canyon not so bad at all, listening to the Thunder resounding off the Canyon Walls...
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Old 07-26-2007   #8
 
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Yes, a good general rule of thumb. Although, lighting can branch out sideways and has even been known to proliferate from the bottom up (i.e., there have been lightning strikes underground.). Rare, but pretty damn cool.
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Old 07-26-2007   #9
 
Gypsum, Colorado
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I did some research on this a while back and the gist of what I got is its highly unlikely that you will be struck on a river(at least what we have around here).

If you do find your self in a lightning storm while paddling you are safer in the middle of the river then trying to get to shore and get out!

And yes lakes are a different story!
On another note however my wife new someone sitting on their couch watching TV and the bolt came through the window and struck her! Sooo be kind and stay in favor of the river GODS!!!!
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Old 07-26-2007   #10
 
Golden, Colorado
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Craziest story I heard was from a friend who 1st hand was sitting in a hot spring in a lightning storm. They were all moderately-juiced through a lightning bolt that hit on the mountainside a fairly significant distance above them. The best they could figure was that the ground water brought the current to them.

Hearing that story made me more cautious about being on the river during a storm. Still you're usually in a deep valley or gorge so it doesn't bother me too much.

...and never pee on an electric fence.
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