Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning safety while hiking

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:41 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:44 PM EST
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(WHSV) - All thunderstorms have lightning and we have many thunderstorms every year. Lightning deaths have been on the decline but even surviving lightning can have a lasting effect.

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Florida saw the most lightning strikes in 2022(Vaisala)

Severe and non-severe thunderstorms are very common in our area. These happen during the warmer months of the year when many people are outside. A very common outdoor activity in our area is hiking. Storms can pop up and develop rather quickly, so what should I do if I get caught up in a storm while hiking?

“Definitely want to avoid elevated areas. Don’t go near rocky outcrops or cliffs. Those are bad spots. Even isolated trees. You want to go to the lower bushes if you can. You’re less likely to get hit by lightning there,” said Allysah Fox of Shenandoah National Park.

Fox also said if you are in a group, spread out.

“If you are in a group, you want to separate because if lightning strikes the ground, you are less likely to injure a lot more people if you are spread out,” said Fox.

There are also some other simple maneuvers you’d want to do.

“Never lay flat on the ground you know. You want to make sure since lightning is conducted very well into the ground, don’t lay flat,” Fox said.

The best thing you can do is get to a structure or vehicle as fast as you can.

Fox said in Shenandoah National Park, they very rarely have these issues.

“Our visitors are usually very prepared when they come here. So luckily they are taking all those preventative measures. They are looking at the weather and they are coming up with contingency plans,” Fox said.


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