|When Lightning Strikes
The best protection against lightning is avoidance. Lightning is random, unpredictable and very dangerous. Here are some tips to help you avoid Lightning while on the water!
- The best protection against lightning is avoidance.
- Head into shore well ahead of the turbulence.
- Lightning can lash out for miles in front of a storm, and it can strike after a storm seems to have passed.
- Look for tall clouds that have an anvil shaped top (cumulonimbus) These clouds can be VERY large, reaching several miles high and several miles in circumference. Squall lines preceding cold fronts also produce thunderstorms.
- Listen to NOAA weather reports for storm reports. These reports are available on your VHF radio, and also on some marine stereo systems. If you see lightning, you can determine the distance from you by timing how long it takes for you to hear the thunder. Every five seconds of time equals one mile of distance. If it takes 20 seconds to hear thunder after you see lighting, then the storm is four miles away.
- Approach waves at a 45 degree angle to keep the propeller underwater, to reduce pounding, and to provide a safer and more comfortable ride.
- If there is lightning, unplug radios and all electrical equipment.
- Stay low. Don't make yourself the tallest target. Keep away from metal objects that aren't grounded to the boat's protection system.
- Thunderstorms usually occur where air masses
of dissimilar temperatures meet such as over mountains, over inland or coastal waters, or preceding a cold front.
- Air must have a high moisture content (high humidity and a dew point over 60 degrees) and be warm near the ground, such as on a typical summer day.
- When warm ground air rises and meets colder air, it condenses and forms water droplets. Condensing releases energy, which charges the atmosphere, and when the dissimilar charge between the negatively charged surface air and the positively charged highest parts of the cloud gets large enough, an explosion of lightning is created, with up to 30,000,000 volts of electricity!
- Thunderstorms generally move in an Easterly direction, so if you see a storm to the South or Southeast of you, by and large you can rest easy. If you see a storm to the West or Northwest of you, LOOKOUT!
- Turn off as much of your electronic equipment as you can, (unplugging equipment is even better) and try and stay in your boat's cabin if possible.