Lightning riding in a bad thunderstorm.

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by DavidFL, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    What do you do?

    You're out riding & suddenly get caught out in a serious thunderstorm with lightning everywhere.
    Do you stop & take shelter, or keep riding?
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  3. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Assuming time was not a problem I usually stop in a bamboo shelter by the side of the road & let it blow over. Happened a couple of weeks ago - rain was so hard the road was deep in water & not safe to ride on. Waited about 15 minutes & the sun came out.
    In 1999 did a trip with the Triumph R.A.T. group & rode in the dark from Calais to Rheim - thunderstorm with very heavy rain all the way & peage lit up with lightning 'fingers'. Was somewhat unnerving to say the least. The only good thing was that my waterproofs were 100%
  4. monsterman

    monsterman Ol'Timer

    When i cant see 10 m because of driving rain and the road is full of debris and insane thais in huge 18 wheeler trucks are still going full bore despite not being able to see .i find the nearest rest stop prefeably with acafe and hunker down for an hour until its safe to go on
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry guys, but what I'm getting at is do you stop to avoid the lightning, or keep riding & stay a moving target?
    Personally I keep riding, albeit slowly.
  6. Phitlok

    Phitlok Member

    Electricity will always follow the path of least resistance across two potentials of a different voltage.

    So being sat on a bike on an open road means that you have reduced the distance to ground, making you and your bike the best conductor around.

    The safest thing would be to get of the bike and take shelter, in a building or inside a vehicle, ( Faraday cage effect) if you are in a tree covered area conventional wisdom dictates that you should not take shelter under a tree in case of falling limbs, however I would ignore this and take the risk over being hit by the lighting in the middle of the road.

    Having said the above, my instinct would be to keep riding unless the lighting was uncomfortably close or I had to ride into it to come out the other side.
  7. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Reckon I'd try & stop so long as shelter wasn't made of metal!
  8. Captain Wally

    Captain Wally Ol'Timer

    Metal shelter is good. It forms a Faraday cage, as mentioned above.

    From Wikipedia:

  9. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    About 6 years ago, a guy we had working part time for us, was out in a rice field and took shelter from a thunderstorm in a bamboo sala. A lightning strike hit the sala and he was thrown out of the shelter. His friend, also sheltering inside, was killed.
    A bamboo sala out in a rice field is more exposed than if it was by the road, but, sounds from the above, like a metal bus shelter type sala would be better than a bamboo hut.
  10. Phitlok

    Phitlok Member

    The trouble is with lighting that its so much energy that when it hits something its like a bomb and if the building is less than substantial its not going to be able to despurse the power effectively. Really there is no correct answer just an educated guess and luck. Anyway if anyone wants to see what happens if you are in a car that gets hit by lighting Top gear did a special a number of years ago it worth a look.
  11. KenYam

    KenYam Ol'Timer

    G'day Dave

    Your question is a good one, I am sure we have all experienced this at some time or another, I know I have and yes it can be bloody scary.

    My view is if in a built up area I would continue riding because lightning has many other objects around to be attract by.
    If I was on the open road with only jungle around I would stop at the first shelter I could find, as lightning maybe attracted by your bike.
    If no shelter around what to do, I think I would keep riding to find shelter
    I would prefer wood or concrete and keep myself off the ground, sit on the bike as 2 rubber tyres to prevent earthing.

    Around 6 years ago a Australian electrcal supervisor was hit by lightning at Sepon in Lao and killed.
    He was in the middle of the jungle next to a dam (he only had a two way radio). The company polocy now is to not venure outside in a lightning storm.
    Lightning in the jungle seems much more wild (to me anyhow). Currently working in the jungle for the first time and I am amazed often regarding
    storms and lightning, so I obey company policy 555.

    Two things I know you have to be very unlucky and the faraday cage works but I personally would prefer to be away from metal structures as they attract
    lightning and from memory the cage example is fully surrounded by metal (360 degrees) and no earth present. Saw this cage example many years ago and trust my memory is correct.

    Cheers Ken F
  12. Phitlok

    Phitlok Member

    You are entirely correct with the cage surrounding you 360, a building does this by the walls roof and floor, only it is at 0v potential and should send the lighting down the walls and around you. If you want to be as safe a possible in the building stand on one leg, as were the electricity hits the ground this can raise the earth above 0v and if you are stood on two legs then this creates a potential to 0V.

    Possible being about 50 meters away from the tin shelter might be safer than in it on an open rice field staying as close to the floor as possible, as you said the highest structure especialyal metal would attract the lighting and it would not be good enough to send the power around the outside.

    On a different note, tyres will not give you any real insulation protection, especially if its raining!

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