View Full Version : Lightning

12-12-2002, 10:06
Has anyone every felt in serious danger from lightning storms while on the trail? Any AT hiker ever been killed or injured by lightning?

Lone Wolf
12-12-2002, 10:28
Dorothy from Neel's gap was struck by lightning on her thru-hike in the seventies.

12-15-2002, 12:22
Once; on our way to the partnership shelter in Virginia. Up on the ridgeline, could see it coming with nowhere to go, no blue blazes down, nothing, scared the dayligths out of us. I swear we were RUNNING, had to be going about 7 miles an hour down to the shelter. Then the sun came out, the storm blew by and we had a great night.

Trail Dog
12-17-2002, 19:42
if you fear lightning then hike with someone who was already struck. Bet you wont get hit again.


12-17-2002, 23:02
not necissarily, there was a former park ranger in yosemite i belive who was struck eight times durring his life time, even once while indoors and once in a car. eventually he carried a bucket of water around with him to put out the fire incase he was struck again. i saw an inteverview with his daughter, it was very interesting.

12-18-2002, 09:49
We were hiking on this exposed ridgeline just before heading into Duncannon (going SOBO) We started hearing cows mooing and dogs barking from the valley below. A huge riot. Within 5 minutes the sky turned pitch black, the heavens opened up. Pelted by hail, wind, lighting everywhere. Didn't get hit but I was scared sh-tless.

12-18-2002, 14:47

I think the Ranger you're thinking of works, or use to, up in your neck of the woods. The SNP.

The ATN ran a story on him a while back I believe. I'll look it up.

It seems the last time he got hit he ran inside of the hut/office before the storm came and still got hit.

Yeah, don't stand near this guy during a storm.

12-18-2002, 18:27
hmm, perhaps theres two then, im pretty sure there was a ranger out west. and the story i heard he was at a party in a house when he was struck, thats very interesting. although id imagine the odds arnt so large for a ranger to be struck seeing as how they are around thunderstorms and in dangerous locations so much more than other people. the mountains can be real dangerous durring tstorms. its somthing like ten fifteen hikers or somthing a year at least are killed by being hit by lightning.

12-18-2002, 18:43
my dad has been struck 3 times, once in my presence. not a pretty sight! He's still alive, but never had a lick of sense (broiled brain no doubt). happily, i don't think i inherited his conductivity.

08-09-2003, 12:35
I think the best advice anyone can give you on lightning safety is:

Never be the highest point. Get off of high and exposed ridges and summits. Avoid large open fields where you will again be the highest point around.

If you are caught in such a bad place with nowhere to run, get into a low crouch (don't lie on the ground, as it only provides more grounding points on your body) with only your shoes touching the ground.
Use your sleeping mat or other non-conductive material between your feet and the ground if possible.

Never take shelter under a lone tree or small clump. Look for large stands of trees, and never stand next to a tree, as it will conduct lightning to you, or fall on you if it is struck.

You should anticipate lightning storms, and take precautionary measures well in advance of the storm.

I will carry a ham radio talkie that receives NOAA weather broadcasts. Could be extremely valuable not only to myself but to others near me.

One more note: Avoid golf courses at all cost!!!

08-21-2003, 14:39
I'm currently vacationing in Hawaii and have learned that worldwide, more people are killed by falling coconuts than by lightning. Good thing there are no coconut palms on the AT.

08-22-2003, 20:03
I think that you will find many more people are killed or injured by all sorts of strange occurrences than by lightning.
Lightning is more of a mind thing with me. Just get a bit on edge when I'm out and there's a storm close by. Guess it's all that fear that was driven into me when I was a child <g>.
One of the reasons I want to do the thru-hike.

Despite the ridiculous odds of being hit by lightning, exercising some good practice while on the trail is always in the best interest of any hiker!

08-25-2003, 10:48
Statistics are a tricky thing. Changes of begin killed in a car accident are relatively high, averaged over the entire world, but in an area of the world that doesn't have any roads, the chances are still zero.

Sure the chances of getting killed by lightening when using the entire world population as your pool is very low. But when your pool is people that have been on top of an exposed mountain during a storm, the odds go up dramatically.

There have been a lot of deaths this year on 14ers here in colorado. Several lightening strikes. The odds of getting in trouble are much higher for people that climb 14ers. The clouds have been building as early as 10 am out here. Typically it is 2 pm, and conventional wisdom says get off the summit by noon. That wisdom is not working this year, but people are slow to adapt. A sad year for that...

Gravity Man

11-24-2003, 04:37
I have been caught in several thunderstorms, but the scariest was in June 2002 on the Long Trail decsending SOBO from Bolton Mt. (90 mi N of Maine Jct). I was only a mile out from Buchanan Lodge in dense forest when in the span of five minutes it virtually got dark, high winds, torrential rain, and heavy thunder rolled on top of me from the west. A lightning strike blasted a large tree about 80 feet to my right. The sensation of this experience will always stay with me. My biggest concern was getting zapped by conduction as the trail was a flowing stream 6 to 9 inches deep

11-24-2003, 16:59
So here's a question - suppose there is no shelter near and you are caught in a severe lightning/Thunderstorm ..... Assuming that you don't set up some place stupid, are you better off in a Hammock or in a tent?