Weather Preparedness: A little reminder

With the dangerous storms this past weekend, now seems like a good time to remind folks what to do if caught outdoors during a thunderstorm or tornado.

Arkansas has the distinction of being 13th in the Nation in the number of lightning strikes per square mile. Lightning strikes the ground here more than 500,000 times in an average year. As cyclists, we should definitely be prepared if we are caught outdoors when a storm passes through.

30/30 Lightning Rule
Because sound travels at approximately 1 mile in 5 seconds, you can determine how far away the lightning is by using the "flash-to-bang" method. So, see lightning and then count seconds until you hear the thunder.  It is recommended that you seek shelter if the time between the lightning flash and the rumble of thunder is 30 seconds or less (6 miles). Now, Mother Hen here would prefer that her baby chicks seek shelter much sooner then this recommendation.  Once inside shelter, you should not resume activities until 30 minutes after the last audible thunder. This is known as the 30/30 Lightning Rule.

Okay, now what?  I did a little research and encourage you to as well to familiarize yourself. Here are a few recommendations for “outdoor survival” that I found online. 
  • Find safe shelter. Sturdy buildings are the safest place to be during lightning storms. Avoid sheds, picnic shelters, baseball dugouts, and bleachers.
  • Avoid isolated trees or other tall objects. It's better to seek shelter under a thick growth of relatively small trees.
  • Don't wait for rain to seek shelter.
  • Get out of the water. Water is a great conductor of electricity.
  • Avoid any metal objects such as metal fences, bicycles and golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools.
  • Spread out and do not stay in a group.
  • Never lie flat on the ground during a lightning storm.
  • If on a bicycle and lightning is within 5 miles, STOP riding, get off and away from your bicycle, find a ditch or other low spot and sit down. (Watch for flash flooding.)
This weekend was a reminder that we live smack dab in Tornado Alley. The peak of the tornado “season” for Arkansas is March to May, but tornadoes can pop up at other times.

  • If you have time, get to a sturdy structure for shelter. Hail and lightning also often accompany tornadoes.
  • If you have no time, or there are no sturdy structures nearby, find a low place in the landscape and lay down. Do not shelter under a highway overpass if it can be avoided.
  • Stay as low as possible. Not only do winds increase with height above the ground, but the more exposed your body is, the more likely you will be struck by flying debris and seriously injured or killed.
  • Avoid sheltering by solitary objects or groups of trees. Lightning often occurs with tornadoes.

Obviously, the best thing to do is to AVOID & EVADE dangerous weather situations.  But, if you can't, if it catches you unaware, you should be prepared.  We encourage you to know ahead of time what to do in various weather situations.  AND, if you find a good website for what to do in these circumstances, please share - post a link or comment to this article and help a brother & your sister out.

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