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Old 04-12-2016   #1
 
Golden, Colorado
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Lightning

What are the general thoughts about lightning on the river? Or actual facts. Ha! Is it better to stay on the river? Pull over and get on land away from the boat? I have a lot of experience with lighting in high alpine situations but have never really heard of any rules for the river. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Old 04-12-2016   #2
 
Missoula, Montana
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You're not grounded if you're sitting in a rubber boat on top of the water. I've been in an aluminum row boat in the middle of a lake and had lightning hit less than 50yds away. Aside from making my ears ring and scaring the hell out of me, no worse for wear. I say ride the lightning!

But really - you should probably get off the water if there's a nasty lightning storm, better to be safer than cooked.
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Old 04-12-2016   #3
 
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Interesting topic. Has anyone on the river ever been shocked by a lightning strike?
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Old 04-12-2016   #4
 
NIMBY, Oregon
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Lightning is a threat on the river, but even more so when you pull closer to the lightning rods(trees) on the bank. I have a lot more to say about this but it's easier to post a link.

https://www.mikeholt.com/mojonewsarc...s~20020716.htm

Just google "lightning rafting site:www.mountainbuzz.com", and you will see the other 10 threads on this subject.

Interesting story of a strike at camp on the GC and a lot of other great information. Much more in-depth than the last link.

https://rrfw.org/RaftingGrandCanyon/Lightning
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Old 04-12-2016   #5
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Baytopia, Colorado
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Generally you don't want to be on or near the highest point (mountain top, lone tree in field, only boat on a lake), or in a depression/cave where current can arc. charge will build up at the highest points and then arc if the electric field gets high enough.

Now when on the river you are probably not the highest point or anywhere where stray currents can arc to/through you. If current is traveling through the river it probably won't go up through the boat to you.

safest place is in a hollow metal sphere or barring that a steel vehicle. the reason is that current resides on the surface of a conductor not inside it. think of all those electrons trying to repel each other they stay on the surface.
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Old 04-12-2016   #6
 
Salida, Colorado
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The river is the lowest point in the valley so in theory you should be safer there since lightning seeks the higher points. Regardless, it's out of your hands and when your time is up your time is up, so just do your best to keep your wits about you.

In our neck of the woods, quick lightning onset is often accompanied by hail. I make my decisions on whether to stay on the water or get to the bank based more on what is hammering me the most, be it lightning, hail, rain, or wind on a case by case basis. So ya, there is no rule book.
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Old 04-12-2016   #7
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Being in the lowest point, insulated by a rubber or plastic boat, has always seemed a better plan to me then shore. Historically speaking, people who stuck to the river seemed to do better then those who went to land, general concept, not lightning specific, case in point, powells men, for instance. Bit of a religious thing for me anymore, I just feel way safer on the river.
I have gotten shocked sitting in hot springs next to the river, never in my boat so far, knock on wood.
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Old 04-12-2016   #8
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I would have to agree with dostep that it is probably out of your hands, when it's your time, it's just your time.
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Old 04-12-2016   #9
 
Golden, Colorado
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Thanks all. Very cool responses.
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Old 04-12-2016   #10
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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I think the boat insulating you from a strike is probably not valid. If lightning strikes your boat, you are the high point. That means the order of being struck is your head, then the boat, unless it originates from the ground. Either way, I don't think you'll be around to tell stories about it later.

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