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Probability of being struck by lightning

  1. Jun 27, 2009 #1
    Supposing I am a frequent mountain climber who encounters rains in 40% of the treks,
    what measures could I take to prevent myself being struck by lightening? Isn't the probality
    of my getting struck with the lightening just too high, assuming that most of the
    mountains "do not" have a "lightening rod"?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2009 #2
    Re: Probability of being struct by lightening

    Yes, this is very dangerous. Check weather reports and don't go if thunderstorms are predicted. If you get caught in one, stay low to the ground - don't be on horseback, lay flat on ground if lightning is immanently close. If (somehow :smile:) a car is reachable, get to it as safely as possible. Don't go under a single tree because that tree is a target and will offer you little protection if it is hit. However, if you can find a canopy of many trees, this is preferable to an open area. If in a forest, stay in there but stay as far away as possible from any one tree. Lay flat on the ground and spread arms and legs out as wide as possible. Also, keep aware and be ready to run from a falling tree or branch.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2009
  4. Jun 27, 2009 #3
    The risk is large, if you are regularly in the outdoors during thunderstorms. The problem is that even if a lightning bolt does not pass through you directly, they produce electric currents in the ground that can be fatal up to 30 meters (100 feet) away from the strike.

    There is no rubber-soled foot gear or any other personal equipment which can substantially reduce the danger in a lightning storm.

    In short, there are only two things you can do to decrease your risk:

    1) Follow the weather forecast and be observant of the weather, and always leave the mountain at the first sign of lightning.

    2) If you are caught in a lightning storm, look for cover in a canopy of trees as suggested above, and crouch down on the balls of your feet.

    Good luck safely enjoying the outdoors!
  5. Jun 27, 2009 #4


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    By states, Colorado has the second highest incidence of lightning (after Florida). The rule here is to start climbing early and be off the top and well down by noon.
  6. Jun 27, 2009 #5
    But, aren't those thunderstorms beautiful and awesome! I saw one at Snowmass in the summer and thought I was entering the gates of heaven.
  7. Jun 28, 2009 #6


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    Beautiful to look at from a distance, terrifying to be outdoors in!
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