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Thread: Lightning?

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    lordofthemark's Avatar
    lordofthemark is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Default Lightning?

    We have had some significant electrical storms lately, and three people were killed in a lightning strike near the White House.

    I have heard it said that the only safe place to be in such a storm is indoors. But I know many of us take shelter under bridges and underpasses - I am not sure if that is a benefit during an electrical storm. I have also heard at least one rider say they had heard it is (paradoxically) safe close to power lines.

    What is the collective wisdom on what to when an electrical storm catches you out on a ride?

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    Under an overpass is good for lightning (it's a big metal grounded thing), just don't lean on the pillars. Under an actual bridge is less good, you may increase your risk of getting caught in flooding unless it's a really big bridge. Note that under an overpass is bad for tornadoes. I've been known to beg shelter on a porch in the boonies during a bad electrical storm. If all else fails the book says crouch (don't lay) in a lowish (not flood-prone) spot in open ground not near metal (power lines, fences, etc). If I'm somewhere like the towpath I'm most worried about falling trees. But mostly I don't worry about it too much--I'm much more likely to be ended by a black suv with war of 1812 plates than by lightning.

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    An article I read said that an average of 28 people per year are killed by lightning in the US. That's about 6 hours' worth of road deaths (and, at the current rate, about 90 minutes worth of COVID deaths). So, as mstone notes, the odds are way better that I will dodge the lightning than dodge the drivers.
    I generally just ride on and grit my teeth, flinching when the thunder is close and loud. If I can find a place to shelter from the rain and wind, then I will take it, even if it's not the perfect spot.

    If what I read is correct, prior to last week, the last time anyone died of a lightning strike in the DC area was in 1991, before I even lived here. Thus it is so exceedingly rare that it's probably not worth wasting a lot of mental energy on.

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    This thread got me wondering if anyone has been struck WHILE riding. Again, exceedingly rare, but it does happen. However, Googled the topic and the third paragraph in this story about a lightning strike in Croatia gives me extreme pause.

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    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
    This thread got me wondering if anyone has been struck WHILE riding. Again, exceedingly rare, but it does happen. However, Googled the topic and the third paragraph in this story about a lightning strike in Croatia gives me extreme pause.
    Oh my. That was hard to read.

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