Lightning -

Sometimes there is no avoiding dangerous weather situations. Bad weather blows in quick and seems to take its time leaving. Here are a few tips to help you survive crazy weather.

– The most important advice is to avoid bad weather. If you’ve planned for weeks a hike to the top of Hahn’s Peak and there are ominous clouds rolling in, it might be a good idea to postpone your hike or pick another place to go, such as a valley instead of a ridgetop. One adage is “the less sky you can see during a storm, the better.”

– Try not to be the highest object around. If you’re on a treeless slope, squat on your heels, feet close together, and hug your knees, keeping your buttocks off the ground. If this position is difficult to maintain, try to insulate your contact with the ground by sitting on something nonconductive, such as your pack or a sleeping pad. Better yet, look for a small ravine or gully or even a slight depression in the ground. If there are trees around, avoid standing near isolated trees, especially solitary, tall trees. A forest of even-height trees provide relative safety, but make sure it’s not a clump of trees in an otherwise bare field.

– Stay out of shallow caves and avoid cliff bases which provide little protection from lightning. Judging how far away a storm is helps but it is not infallible. Counting the seconds between lightning flash and thunder clap (approximate five seconds lapse places the nearest part of the bolt about one mile away) doesn’t always work. Lightning can stretch out for several miles and come, literally, out of the blue.

This is not meant to keep you inside if you see a single dark cloud in the sky, but rather to help you increase your safety margin in all kinds of weather. Hike and bike safely.

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