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What do you do when caught in a Thunderstorm?(20 posts)

What do you do when caught in a Thunderstorm?Steve Davis
Jul 11, 2001 8:32 AM
Yesterday I was caught in a severe T-storm about 25 miles from home. It happened about 6:30 at night so waiting it out would have left me stranded after dark.

I ended up forging on with lightning all around. The rain came down very hard, the sky was extremely dark, and I'm sure the cars had a tough time seeing me. I was very scared, but finally made my way to a friend's house about 15 miles away where I begged a ride back home.

What would you have done?
re: What do you do when caught in a Thunderstorm?rtolle
Jul 11, 2001 8:37 AM
Ride Fast! If you see a tornado ride faster! I've been there and it's not fun but you gotta get home somehow.
re: What do you do when caught in a Thunderstorm?Jay H
Jul 11, 2001 8:45 AM
Well, I do carry a LED light on my seatpost.. doesn't weigh much and since it's my commuter, I can get caught in the rain at times. I have a small Xenon light but that's in my pack and just the mount is on my handlebar.. Of course, that's more to be seen, not to see (unless in an emergency it would be better than nothing).

I think it would be really dependant on the conditions and the roads between a safe point and your location. A heavy thunderstorm while you're sitting on a steel bike on the top of some Col, seek shelter as going down will be dangerous, whereas if you're on flatlands on backroads with a decent shoulder, you can ride home or to a safe point. It all really depends on the sit. One thing you do not know is how long it's going to last... you can wait out a storm at 6:30 and if it's now 9pm and still raining, well it's now dark and wet!

I think carrying a LED in the back is a cheap and light way of ensuring some kind of visual clue in storms or at low light situations. And a cell phone if you do ride alot with rain situations!

I rode in Thunder and Lightning with Hail yesterday! OUCH! (nm)Mabero
Jul 11, 2001 8:47 AM
cars are bad enough as-is...don't tempt fate!Haiku d'état
Jul 11, 2001 8:58 AM
if it's just a hard rain, i'll ride. if i see lightning, i'll start heading either out of the path of the storm (if possible), toward home, or looking for cover (under an overpass, church porch, shopping center, whatever). if it's blowing hard enough to take you down or fell trees and other nature 'round you, the only option is to get whatever cover is close and wait it out.

keep in mind--i was off the bike during our regular weeknight ride a couple weeks back, it goes right by my neighborhood, and the rain, wind, thunder, lighning, WIND, WIND was horrible--took the car out looking for the group in case some of them were stuck. ther were trees fallen across the road and large branches everywhere, and the wind was blowing my vehicle across the lanes; i could not see more than 10 feet ahead, and i knew there were cyclists out there someplace, so i was being very careful and deliberate. nonetheless, when i finally found them (going the same direction i was driving), they were hauling tail to get back to the car, i was going slow, and it still scared the crap outta me (they weren't there, then suddenly they were).

for a motorist NOT looking for riders, just trying to drive through the storm...i wouldn't even want to consider the danger of this situation. get off the road if you don't think a driver can see you in time to avoid an incident. i've also found that i have much more visibility than a car, since riding in rain i put my cycling cap on bill-front and/or wear a helmet with visor, and don't have a dirty/fogged windshield and wiper blades that might need replacing to contend with.

waiting in the rain for 15 minutes at the roadside is far superior to recovering in traction with a wrecked frame at home.
and you didn't see it coming?cyclopathic
Jul 11, 2001 9:11 AM
Usually you get visual cues at least 1/2hr in advance.
Wind usually dies ~30-40min before it starts pouring down.

carrying cell phone, blinky, rain jacket, money, spare 2 tubes, pump patches, powerbar is always good idea on longer rides.

I have a friend who is into all that enduro stuff (I don't think he rides anything less BUT the century), and you should have seen his bike. Reflectors, 2.5w headlight, extra tubes wrapped around hubs, extra spokes taped to fork blade/chainstays, frame pump.. and he always carries reflective vest.

Riding in rain isn't big deal, but lightning makes it pretty scary. You have ~30 times more chance to get hit by lightening then win lottery :o)
By the time I saw it, I was too far from home.Steve Davis
Jul 11, 2001 9:21 AM
Yes, I did see it coming, but I'm just addicted to riding.

I figured on the rain and left the cell phone at my office so that it wouldn't get ruined. I ride in the rain all the time... no big deal. The lightning, however is another story. Once I heard the first clap of thunder, I altered my route so that I could try to escape, but that obviously didn't work.
Take cover. TAKE COVER!!!MikeC
Jul 11, 2001 9:29 AM
Two people have been killed by lightning in the past month here in New Jersey.
Last year I was surprised by a storm-out-of-nowhere at 6:00am. It was overcast but storm-free just five minutes before. When the lightning started, I turned around and rode a mile back to a farmer's barn I'd passed. While waiting for the storm to pass, I watched a helicopter forced to land in the field next to me. The previous year, I pulled over and rang a stranger's doorbell to ask if I could wait on their porch.
I'd like my riding to be mentioned in my eulogy...but not yet!
happened to me the other day ...bianchi boy
Jul 11, 2001 9:37 AM
I was on vacation in Pensacola, Fla., and didn't see a thunderstorm building behind me. When I circled around on a loop route I was taking, I saw the black clouds and lightning and knew I was in for trouble. At the time, I was about 2 miles from my cousin's house, and headed there ASAP. Got to their front door just as the bottom dropped out. My cousin's wife didn't initially recognize me with all my biking gear on and thought I was some kind of a nut ringing her doorbell. Fortunately she figured out who I was and welcomed me inside, and then gave me a ride back to our beach house when it became apparent the storm wasn't going to blow over any time soon. We drove through water over 1 foot deep on the way there and lots of lightning, so I am very glad I decided to get out of the weather.

Living in a state (NC) which typically has some of the highest lightning-related deaths in the country, I don't fool around with thunderstorms. When I see or hear one coming, I head for cover. A bike is one of the last places I want to be when lightning is striking.
No bikeride is worth risking deathPaulCL
Jul 11, 2001 10:49 AM
I got caught in a weird storm a couple weeks ago. Thunder, lightening, driving rain and large hail. I ducked into a church parking lot and ran me and my bike into an alcove. It blew over. So, instead of doing 60 miles, I did 55. Fewer miles is better than getting hit by a car, hitting a car myself, or getting struck by lightening.

Without lightning, I will probably keep riding. One downside is not being able to see the road clearly. In a really bad downpour, I hit a pothole (a big one - hey, it looked like a puddle!) and broke a rim. My wife was not happy having to drive out to the middle of nowhere in a driving rainstorm to pick up my wet a**. Its' been about seven years and she still kids me about it. Now I bring a cellphone on long rides so I can call a taxi!
Watch the forcast and ride in a closed circuit.Steeve
Jul 11, 2001 10:52 AM
I live in Florida. I think the best think is to watch the weather forcasts before heading out. If there is a chance of T-storms I ride in a circuit that always keeps me within 5 miles or so of home.

Those who don't live in Florida (or the Gulf states) have no idea what a T-storm really is! (A LED or Blinky would be absolutely useless.)
don't touch your frame :-)ET
Jul 11, 2001 11:01 AM
Question regarding lightening and frame material: is carbon safer than the other materials? That is, if you are riding and knees touching the frame, or standing/walking and holding onto the bike's top tube during a storm, is carbon a poorer conductor of electricity, enough so that it's safe or at least safer if the frame is hit by lightening?
No matter what...Mabero
Jul 11, 2001 11:08 AM
No matter what kind of material you have your bike is gone. It takes 10,000 volts to refract light by a foot (my E.E. buddy said so so its gotta be true right?) so with that much voltage it won't matter.
it's not about the bikeET
Jul 11, 2001 11:29 AM
it's about me. :-) I'm talking about human electrocution and death.
it's not about the bikeMabero
Jul 11, 2001 11:35 AM
Either way you even if the bike was a slightly better conductor that would still not chance your chance of being electricuted to death.
you sound like you've been electrocuted :-) (nm)ET
Jul 11, 2001 11:48 AM
No but I am still "SHOCKING"... :) (nm)Mabero
Jul 11, 2001 12:20 PM
Move to CaliforniaDog
Jul 11, 2001 1:02 PM
Hey, no T-storms here. Used to live in Missouri, so I can sympathize.

I'd find an overpass, convenience store, or something and wait it out. Cars can see you or react, and might hit you.

Jul 11, 2001 2:59 PM
Like a lot of things, there is a safety group for lightning. Check out:

If in an open field, get off the bike, stay away from trees and crouch down in a roadside ditch.

Denver/Boulder was pretty gnarly last night as well. Lots of strikes on the ridge near my house.
re: Get soap "it saves water"Steve A
Jul 12, 2001 6:05 AM
Dont go under atree "duh" but seriously try to find good cover, say under an overpass ? In most cases i just keep going, and hope for the best. Its a good question.