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Exiting during a lightning storm...

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by plclark196, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. plclark196

    plclark196 Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Fla ...spring and cave country!
    Have you ever surfaced after a dive to find you are in the middle of a violent lightning storm?
  2. mkutyna

    mkutyna NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: FL
    lightning storm? yes. violent? not so much. If I can see the lightning flashes from my safety stop, I'd putter around at the SS for as long as I could to wait for it to blow over.
  3. Garrobo

    Garrobo Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    Exit as near the boat as possible. Hopefully, the boat will take the hit. If you are away from the boat you might be the primary target.
  4. Walter

    Walter Instructor, Scuba

    Yes .
  5. ClayJar

    ClayJar ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Baton Rouge, LA
    Yep. First, I extended my safety stop as long as reasonable. (I was well under 500 psi, but at a lake or spring, you're not going to be lost at sea or anything.) When I got to the point where I felt it was prudent to exit, I made my customary slow ascent to the surface. As soon as I broke the surface, however, it was an exercise in how quickly I could pull my fins and make it to shelter.

    Basically, my guidelines go something like:
    1. If you can avoid diving in a thunderstorm, that may be the best plan.
    2. If you're on a dive and a thunderstorm rolls in, staying underwater as long as possible (in the hopes it will pass) may be reasonable.
    3. If you must exit the water during a thunderstorm, spend as little time on the surface (and out in the open) as possible.
    It would require exceedingly unusual circumstances for me to break my ascent plan for a thunderstorm (i.e. by skipping stops or ascending more rapidly than normal).

    In open seas, the idea would be similar, except that I would be even more wary of having to exit during the storm. The likely wave action may make the exit significantly more difficult, and a boat in the open seas seems a very large target for a strike. I would not want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary in the water in the immediate vicinity of the vessel.

    (Funny/sad anecdote: From the back door of the offices at work, we can see across a field and canal over to a local golf course. Every time we hear a thunderstorm blow in, we all hop to the door to look to the course. Sure enough, more times than not there will be a cluster of golfers camping out under the lone large live oak in the open area of the course. No lightning injuries there yet...)
  6. sberanek

    sberanek Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Champaign, IL
    Happened in Jamaica to me. I noticed the lightning flashes in the water and tried to mime them to other people...they didn't get the hint and no one had a slate. I found out later that they thought it was the flash from my camera, the one with the batteries that died 10 pictures into the dive. *sigh*

    I would have puttered around as long as my air would let me, but we also had a discover scuba guy with us who sucked up air like no other. So we surfaced and hauled butt back to the dock (fortunately wood). I ended up towing the discover scuba guy because he was not a fast or strong swimmer, and the two of us together were still faster than he was on his own.

    I know you can't outrun lightning, but my thought was the least amount of time on the surface meant the least amount of time my "not winning the lighting lottery" luck had to hold out.

    Jamaica is one of those places that it can be perfectly clear and nice when you go under, but all of a sudden a storm pops up out of nowhere.

  7. jwalko

    jwalko Contributor

    Yes. This happened on a dive in Ft. Lauderdale.

    The day started out nice and relatively clear. We were diving in about 40' of water on a reef with about 70' off the sides. It was a charter, so there were also people snorkling around the boat. We come up to our safety stop and see lightning flashes. We stayed at the SS for as long as we could, them surfaced and got on the boat quickly.

    The storm was one of the typical squalls that come up and blow through in about 15 minutes. No one seemed too concerned about it (perhaps rightly so...perhaps not). We didn't think too much of it at the time. The snorklers were a bit nervous, because they had to get out of the water and sit on a rocking and heaving boat while it blew over...being uder water, if we didn't see the lightning flashes, we wouldn't have known there was even a storm.

    The most difficult part wasn't the lightning...it was getting onto the boat ladder with the boat rocking and rolling all over the place (ocean went from very calm to 2-3' swells very quickly).

  8. nwhitney2003

    nwhitney2003 Contributor

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Portland, Oregon
    Thanks for posting this. I hadn't thought about this before.

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