Fall Thunderstorms & Investigating
By Katie Snow
Many of us never think of checking weather conditions prior to doing an outdoor investigation. We pack our gear and off we go to an outdoor location previously chosen by our teams as a collaborated effort. Where I live a storm can whip up at anytime without notice and during the fall season those in the storm prone areas of the country where warm and cold fronts meet are sure to keep an eye to the sky. But what if your in an area that isn’t prone to fall storms and one brews up and your in a cemetery at 11pm with no one around but the rest of your team? Well the only way to be safe is getting in a shelter or a car. However, if getting inside is not an option, you can lessen the threat of being struck by lightning with the following tips. But don’t lull yourself into thinking you are safe as you are NEVER safe outside in a storm.
Know the weather patterns of the area you plan to visit. For example, in mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon. There are many areas of the country that do have patterns. Always listen to the weather forecast for the area you plan to visit. The forecast may be very different from the one near your home. If there is a high chance of thunderstorms do not go investigating!
Here are a few tips from NOAA on safety during weather threats.
Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
Stay away from tall or isolated trees or other tall objects.
Your team should spread out to avoid the current traveling between team members.
Stay away from water and wet items, such as ropes, and metal objects, like fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances.
Remember There is little you can do to substantially reduce your risk if you are outside in a thunderstorm. The only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle.
Photo Source: Dubois County Herald