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Hiking in Thunderstorms – How to Stay Safe

Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities that many people prefer all over the world.

If caught in thunderstorm, then seek shelter in house or car. If outside, avoid trees and metal.

They try to get to hiking whenever it is possible. They go to the mountains for hiking and to be honest it is a lovely outdoor activity.

People love hiking, however, sometimes, this fun sport can turn into a dangerous nightmare. This happens rarely; however, it is not uncommon to happen.

While a person is hiking, the weather can take any turn and in one moment the lovely weather that you were enjoying a while ago might turn into thunderstorm or rain. Hiking in a thunderstorm is something that nobody would want due to hail and lightning. There are many dangers and one might get serious damage if they try it hike in a thunderstorm.

If you are ever on hiking and there is a thunderstorm, then your life can be in danger to a certain extent. You should be careful and follow several survival points that will ensure your safety and wellbeing. We have listed these safety points below so that you known what is needed to be done if you are stuck in a thunderstorm while hiking. These points will make sure that you suffer minimal or no damage.

 

What should you do if a thunderstorm occurs while hiking?

Prepare

Precaution is better than cure. This is one sentence that we have heard many times and it is always true. So why don’t we apply this statement to our hiking task? Why go hiking when you already know that there would be a thunderstorm in that area.

Nobody would go hiking if they know that the place, they are going will have a thunderstorm. The first step you should do before going hiking is checking the area where you are going hiking.

Check the weather forecast of that area and see if it has any chances of lightning or thunder. If there are chances of lightning then you shouldn’t go there. This will help you remain safe and sound in the house. Make sure to follow this advice very carefully as it can help you to get rid of many problems that you will suffer from if you go hiking in a thunderstorm. A good hiker always checks for the weather forecast before they head out. This helps them to enjoy hiking fully without worrying about anything else.

 

Seek protection

In case you are out on hiking and due to some reason thunderstorm occurs, then the first thing you should do is seek for protection or shelter. During thunderstorms, the best place to stay is inside the house. Seek for a shelter or a house to rest in. This will help you to save from getting hit by thunder. Seek shelter as soon as possible. You can go inside your vehicle, some house, or even a cabinet to stay safe from lightning and thunder. Staying indoor is one of the best ways to protect yourself from a thunderstorm.

 

Safety outdoor

Incise you are unable to find the shelter inside the house or vehicle, you are requiring to stay put door. While staying outdoor there is certain areas form which you should stay away. For example, stay away from trees. Do not take shelter under the trees. Trees are more prone to getting struck by lightning so if you take shelter under a tree there are high chances that you might get stuck by a thunderstorm. Keep all your metal things away and stay in an isolated place that does not have any tress or metal object. This will provide you safety to a certain extent. If you are in a group, make sure to stay away from each other and do not cluster around as a group. There are high chances of being struck by a thunderstorm when you are in a group.

1. Stay away from trees

2. Keep metal away

3. Do not cluster

 

Position

The last thing you can do for safety is to lie down and position yourself so that you do not get stuck by lightning. Do not lie flat to the ground. You can stay in a half-bent position with your head under your arms as a means of protection. This will help your head to stay safe in case you are struck by lightning.

 

Thunderstorms

Nature keeps exhibiting its many moods. Some are mild and enjoyable where as others are rough and scary. There is bright sunshine and lush greenery with eye soothing colorful flowers spread across the fields. On the other hand, a light drizzle of rain gives solace from scorching heat. However, when the nature turns violent and lets loose all its reins, then there is sheer havoc. This is the time when we encounter rough weather and thunderstorms and cyclones or hurricanes.

As much as we enjoy the mild and soothing mood of nature, it is equally tough to tackle its rough side. The most common phenomena especially during rainy season are thunderstorms and lightning.

WHAT ARE THUNDERSTORMS?

Warm air from the surface of the earth rises up in the atmosphere, where it forms clouds. As more air gets accumulated, the cloud becomes dense and then starts to cool down. This is condensation of air that results in the cloud getting filled with water droplets. The moisture contained in the cloud reaches a stage where it can no longer hold to the water content.

Thus, we have rain as the downward draft of the cloud starts hitting the earth. There is electrical charge in the cloud particles (water droplets and hail / ice). When the charge accumulates and gets sufficiently large, there is lightning discharge. The lightning quickly and intensely passes through the air, creating shock waves. These shockwaves are what we hear as clap or roll of thunder. Thus, streak of lightning and loud rumble of clouds accompany thunderstorms. There are strong, gusty winds and later it may culminate in heavy rain showers or hailstorm.

 

FORMATION OF THUNDERSTORM

Thunderstorms are result of instability of vertical motion of winds. As we know, the warm air from earth’s surface heated by sun becomes lighter and rises up in the atmosphere.

Higher up the atmosphere is comparatively cooler and the air starts collecting there and forms clouds. As more and more moisture accumulates in the clouds, they become dense and heavy. There is constant motion of the warm, lighter air rising and mingling with the heavier cooler clouds.

This constant movement of heated moist air moving upwards and cooler drier air transporting downwards sets convection currents. The portion where the vertical motion is strong is called cells and when they carry air to the lowest layer of the atmosphere that is troposphere, it becomes deep cells. Thunderstorms are result of the merging of moist deep cells and forming of precipitation that convert to lightning and thunder.

The upward winds and downward winds that create instability in atmosphere cause latent heat and thus results in lightning. Thunderstorm occurs in cloud known as cumulonimbus, which is a dense, towering vertical cloud.

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF THUNDERSTORMS

There are primarily 4 types of thunderstorms – Single cell, Multi cell, Squall line and Supercell.

Single-cell storm: This is single storm resulting from comparatively lighter clouds forming and usually found in spring or summer, when the temperatures are high and there is rapid updraft of surface winds. Sometimes these storms can be severe, but most often they are not. In fact, they bring the much-needed rain to cool off the scorching heat and bring some relief. In their severity, these storms can bring brief spells of heavy rain or hail.

Multi-cell storm: This is merging of multiple single-cell storms. These thunderstorms are accompanied by usual hail and gusty winds. Since the intensity is more, there is probability of heavy downpour causing floods. Multi-cell thunderstorms can line up, hover over the same area, and thus pour out its content in a concentrated spot, resulting in flash floods. In some cases, more than five inches of rain has been recorded in a span of an hour or two! Under such circumstances, the flooding not only becomes dangerous but life threatening. Often we hear of cloud burst. A super saturated cloud that can no longer hold on to the moisture bursts open, bringing down literally a heavy column of rain.

Squall line thunderstorms: These are intense line of thunderstorms, stretching for hundreds of miles. Commonly occurring in the Midwest, these squall lines precede powerful cold front. There may be occurrences of hail, tornadoes, very heavy rain and lightning. However, the biggest threat is damaging straight-line winds that can exceed the speed of 70 mph and cause major structural damage.

Supercell thunderstorms: This is the deadliest of the lot and is king of all thunderstorms. In this, the updraft is rotating and thus prolonging the life of the storm. This gives it more time to become organized and the rotation is the result of change in speed and direction of the wind with relation to the height. Thus, Supercell thunderstorms can cause tornadoes due to its circular movement. Besides, they are instrumental in bringing very large hail, flash floods and destructive winds. These are very rare yet very intense. Under favorable storming conditions, this type of thunderstorm takes a long time to die down.

HOW TO TAKE CARE DURING THUNDERSTORMS

Life is very precious and we should make every attempt to keep ourselves safe along with our family and pets. When there is a prediction of a thunderstorm, do stay indoors and remain safe. However, just being indoors is not enough.

Things to remember when you are indoors

  • Water and metal are good conductors of electric current. Hence, make sure that you keep away from these things and avoid their usage during storm.
  • Avoid using electronics like corded phones or computers as electric wires conduct lightning. There can be major mishaps of shock or fire.
  • Do not do laundry, wash utensils, take shower or wash hands as the metal plumbing material may attract and conduct lightning.
  • During thunderstorms, especially hailstorms, there are chances of windows or glass breaking due to strong gust of wind. Under such circumstances, stay away from windows, etc or draw the drapes to cover them and prevent the broken glasses from flying around the place, causing injury.

Things to remember when outdoors

  • The first thing that you should do is run for shelter, when you hear thundering. Take shelter in a building or strong place and avoid open space.
  • Do not stand under a tree as that is most prone to falling in strong winds or when struck by lightning.
  • If you do not find a shelter nearby, then squat on the ground. Put your hands on the knees and then bury your head between and curl up as close as possible to make a smaller target.
  • If you are in water in pool or sea, head for the shore and keep off any metal.
  • A group can be comforting in difficult times. However, during thunderstorm keep safe distance from each other to avoid anyone attracting lightning and passing the wave to others.
  • Pets need care too. Take your dog inside the house, as the doghouse is not lightning proof or hail proof. Besides, the loud noise of thundering is very harmful for their sharp hearing and may damage their ears. It also creates anxiety amongst animals.
  • Do not ride open vehicles like bicycles or motorcycles, as the metallic object is sure to attract lightning and cause damage and accidents.

Taking care of your property and stuff

  • Do not leave your vehicle in the open. Instead, park it safely in covered garage.
  • Lightning can destroy old and dead branches of trees. Hence, see that there are no dead or overhanging branches near your house or roof. They could fall and damage the roofing or windows.
  • When not in use, get into the habit of unplugging electrical and electronic appliances that may cause short circuit or fire if lightning strikes.
  • If you are driving when the thunderstorm strikes, immediately head for a garage or carport to protect the vehicle. If none is available, then just pull up at the side of the road and cover the face with a cloth. This will prevent injury occurring from shattered glass or windowpane.

 

Thunderstorms can be very intimidating and one should always learn to be prepared to tackle them when there is prediction by the meteorological department. Having knowledge about the various types of storms and the possible outcome in case of each can assist us in being in control of the situation, rather than contemplating what to do in the time of emergency.

Let us not forget that thunderstorms are violent face of the nature and they are totally beyond our control. Nonetheless, with pre-warnings, one can arm themselves to face the consequences and ward off any untoward incidences effectively. It is in best interest of all that there is no point in being very adventurous and try to venture out during the storm.

Thunderstorms can cause lot of destruction, particularly if they are severe accompanied by heavy showers or hailstorms.

 

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