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Lightning Safety

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Lightning Safety

Postby mdewey12 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:13 am

My high Sierra trip is rapidly approaching. I am well aware that summer is storm season in the Sierra =O

I am VERY cautious around thunderstorms, and have read that we should be over all passes by noon.

We're not staying at HSC, but near them--sunrise, Merced, and vogelsang. I know sunrise won't open for two days after we visit. assuming we are caught in a thunderstorm, do any of the High Sierra camps provide adequate shelter? Do we instead just crouch in our tents at 10k ft and hope we don't get hit? Definitely a concern of mine so feedback/tips would be appreciated. I don't want to be too frightened to have a good time but I also want to be respectful of nature and know my plan of action.

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Re: Lightning Safety

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:55 am

Nothing at a HSC is going to protect you from lightning. There are no buildings such as you'll find in the front country. They are tent cabins, with wood frames and canvas roof. Huddling in a tent also increases risk, slightly.

Here is what NOLS has to say on the subject of lightning safety: http://www.nols.edu/nolspro/pdf/Outdoor ... Gookin.pdf

The odds of being struck are much smaller than the odds of getting in a traffic accident on the way up to the trailhead. You're probably also more likely to hurt yourself, or to become dehydrated or hypothermic. However, like elevation illness, the fatality/disability factor makes it important to pay attention and play it safe. If it does happen, it'll be deadly. So keep yourself safe out there.
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Re: Lightning Safety

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:00 pm

Good advice and perspective from AT.

In most cases in the Sierra, you can see thunderstorms approaching, and have plenty of time to get down to lower elevations. My experience is that they usually get most serious later in the afternoon...3-6 p,m, or so.

And most of your hiking isn't on top of a pass anyway. We've backpacked over a thousand miles in the last ten years in the Sierra. We've seen rain about six times, and serious hail once. Admittedly, we've also cancelled a couple of trips, or at least called them early, because the weather report didn't look good.

But still, this is not a serious concern for most hikers on most days.
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