When you are hiking, mountaineering, climbing or mountain biking, thunderstorms can very quickly become a serious topic.
Rule #1 of correct behaviour while a thunderstorm: when a thunderstorm forms we should leave the mountain area. If we steadily keep one eye on the heaven, it gets easier to identify an upcoming thunderstorm timely. We study weather forecasts accurately and as time goes by we become experts in assessing the weather situation. Single-cell thunderstorms, which appear mainly on sticky summer days, form in the afternoon or evening hours – a time when we have already finished our tour. INSIDERS start their tours early in the morning!
However, in the case we get caught in a thunderstorm while we are in the mountains, it is important to keep “cool“. We watch out for our surrounding and look for a safe place to stay. If we see lightning but we can’t hear thunder, the thunderstorm is up to 20 km away and we have gained time. However, we don’t have to lose time.
If the sound of thunder follows the lightning flash immediately, it gets more dangerous and we keep away from exposed places. We start looking for hollows, embankments or depressions. Avoid water-bearing places with marsh or small rivers. Put away everything that might be made of metal: hiking sticks, backpack or mountain bikes. Wood can be okay, however, avoid free-standing trees. Your group shouldn’t huddle together. Instead, each person should find an own shelter. INSIDERS crouch down and wait and see.
Thunderstorm checklist for INSIDERS:
- If a thunderstorm is brewing, we have already finished our tour
- If we are still on our way, we look for shelters or huts with lightning conductors
- If we can’t find anything appropriate, we look for non-exposed places
- We avoid water and moisture, rivers, marshland or ponds
- Summits, crests and plateaus are bad – hollows, embankments and depressions are better
- We keep away from any items made of metal
- If we are on a via ferrata, we stay belayed and use fixed pitons for securing our rope
- We minimize our height, crouch on dry equipment and wait
- Our group splits up and we try to avoid the proximity of others
- We stay calm and don’t lose our nerves – the thunderstorm passes by!