Ride the lightning: Is it safe to surf in a storm?

Stu Nettle picture
Stu Nettle (stunet)
Swellnet Dispatch

screen_shot_2015-11-30_at_2.29.15_pm.pngEarlier this month a German tourist was struck by lightning while surfing near Suffolk Park south of Byron Bay. He was among a small group of surfers who remained in the water when an intense thunderstorm rolled in over the region. Following the strike, the surfer was pulled from the water and taken to Tweed Hospital in a critical condition. On the weekend the surfer died of wounds suffered from the lightning strike.

On average between five and ten people die from lightning strikes in Australia each year while 100 people are injured. It's not known how many people have died while surfing though a Google search only reveals two incidents worldwide. The limited scope means that historical statistics simply aren't known.

So is it worth leaving the water when a thunderstorm forms? As the storm season approaches Swellnet seperates fact from myth surrounding lightning strikes.

The first myth is that water attracts lightning - this isn't true, water doesn't attract lightning anymore than land does. So on first impression it would seem that staying out the back would be as safe as anywhere else, however that's not necessarily the case.

While sitting on their boards, surfers become the highest point of the surrounding area which makes them vulnerable. Lightning usually seeks the highest surrounding point, therefore if it were to strike somewhere in the vicinity it would hit them first. The same principle applies to tall trees, which don't physically attract lightning either, but their height makes them a target.

Similarly, metal jewellery and trinkets don't attract lightning. Each lightning strike is a large-scale event and not influenced by a few grams of metal. Larger metal objects such as a tinny (aluminium boat)will attract a lightning channel but only if the strike is already in close proximity - in which case you would still experience an injury from being that close to begin with.

Though water conducts electricity whole bodies of water aren't charged if they're hit by lightning. Scientists still aren't sure how far current spreads through water following a strike with answers ranging from 20 to 80 metres. Anyone within that range can expect to suffer injuries depending upon their proximity.

Responding to lightning becomes an issue of probablity; during a storm lightning may strike near you or it may not, and it's most likely to strike the highest point though that's not always the case.

So should you get out of the water when a storm approaches while surfing?

Considering the high-stakes outcome the best advice is yes. However, if you can't get out of the water then lay on your board so your head isn't the highest point. If you're in a small tinny get out of it and swim a distance away (other dangers permitting). If you're in a boat with a cabin stay under the cabin and try not to touch anything metal.

In a report published last year, lightning safety specialist John S. Jensenius, said:  "People who don't alter outdoor plans when thunderstorms are forecast or occurring are unnecessarily putting themselves at risk of being struck by lightning."

The accepted approach is what's called the "30/30 rule". If the time between seeing a flash of lightning and hearing thunder is less than 30 seconds, then it's time to paddle in. For every 3 seconds, the lightning is 1 kilometre away so 30 seconds means it's 10 kilometres away - close enough to be struck.

The other "30" applies to when the storm passes. More than half of all lightning deaths in Australia occur after the storm has passed. Allowing 30 minutes to elapse ensures the danger has passed.

Proof that lightning can strike water...

Lightning Facts:

  • Lightning can warm the air by 27,700 degrees Celsius, five times hotter than the surface of the sun
  • A strike can contain a hundred million electrical volts
  • If your hair stands up on the end of your head, it could indicate positive charges are rising through you. If so, seek immediate shelter
  • Thunder is caused by the expansion of rapidly heated air
  • Lightning from the top of a thunderstorm cloud carries a large positive charge. This is known as positive lightning
  • Positive lightning can strike as far as 16 kilometres from a storm.


Rabbits68's picture
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Rabbits68 Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 3:57pm

Interesting read. Cheers.

That bit of vid is spectacular!!

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 4:06pm

"If your hair stands up on the end of your head, it could indicate positive charges are rising through you."

Or, if they are negative charges, you may have accidentally joined The Cure.

whaaaat's picture
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whaaaat Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 11:06am

And if you're on the golf course with lightning around, hold up a 1 iron. Not even God can hit one of those.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 5:08pm

how goes it Whaaat? havent' seen you around here for a while.

whaaaat's picture
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whaaaat Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 5:36pm

Hey Steve, it goes well. I look in from time to time. Hoping to see the Outsider's byline. Alas, no dice.

udo's picture
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udo Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 4:27pm

Probably a stupid question....anything different going to happen to you if you have an electronic sharkshield hanging off your board or body and cop a lightening strike ?
One model Surf7 has an anntenae 2.8mt long.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 4:17pm

That's a great question.

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blindboy Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 7:37pm

I can't see that it would make any difference udo. If electric fields increased lightning strike they would be used on lightning rods.

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caml Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 4:25pm

I can remember a few cases of surfers being killed by lightning . Japan was most notable just a few years ago .

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floyd Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 5:05pm

After debating whether we should take the walk given the storm on the horizon some of us did indeed get caught 2 km down the beach when an severe electrical storm hit. Lighting struck the dunes higher up behind us many times as we hid laying down in a sand hollow on the beach.

After each strike the air all around us was crackling like thousands of tiny firecrackers and bright bright pink. We all shat ourselves so badly. We all thought we were goners. It was the same storm that killed a swimmer leaving a beach down the coast.

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AndyM Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 9:54pm

Holy fuck...

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fitzroy-21 Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 5:05pm

I'd agree with the one about a small tinny, but in a boat (steel or not) I would have thought you would be of the same potential without being linked to "earth". I bit like a strike hitting a plane.

I'm not a leccy though so any out there may be able to shed light on that one :)

gearoid's picture
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gearoid Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 5:31pm

As an electrical engineer, I would like to advise any SUP riders reading this that their boards make perfect insulators, while their paddles act as lightning surge diverters, so they are under absolutely no danger of being struck by lightning while standing around in the ocean during an electrical storm. If anything, it is the perfect time for them to get out, stay out as long as possible and score as many waves as they can.

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blindboy Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 7:27pm

Good one gearoid.......but some might take you seriously.

gearoid's picture
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gearoid Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 12:15am

You're right BB - sadly.

Charles Darwin would be fascinated. People won't believe a case put together by a group of scientists using rigorously obtained data in a peer reviewed forum, but they will blindly accept something that some clown says in the comments section of an internet article.

Kids: don't believe anything you read on the internet without checking that it comes from a reputable source.

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eeldraw Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 10:40am
gearoid wrote:

Kids: don't believe anything you read on the internet without checking that it comes from a reputable source.

First said by Abraham Lincoln.
If you're going to use someone else's quote, at least attribute it to them...

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scrotina Saturday, 31 Oct 2020 at 12:18pm


harold's picture
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harold Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 5:32pm

Aww,maate, sharkshields actually ATTRACT lightening,didnt youse faarken know that ;]

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spidermonkey Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 5:33pm

To My knowledge on a boat it'll take the shortest path to ground,steely not such a big deal.timber or composites,you can get all sorts of bad shit goin on if no part of the superstructure is grounded big sparks ect.I know a few people been hit on yachts,blows out different electrics randomly.or one guy had pinholes blown thru below the waterline in a storm off the solomons.Apparantly if it's raining the charge will travel down the wet boat to earth.if it can't your going to have some big spark

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Jonathan Halloran Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 6:02pm

What surprises me most about this article is that we don't know how far electricity travels in water! That's crazy. Seems to me like all you'd have to do is submerge a few cane toads at various distances from a (experimental) lightning bolt. There, take that science!

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penmister Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 6:53pm

Cant get any closer then sitting on your board when a storm rolls in....

blindboy's picture
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blindboy Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 7:29pm

The safest place in a serious storm is your car. It is acts as a Faraday Cage so as long as you are not touching anything metal connected to the shell you are completely safe.

black-duck's picture
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black-duck Monday, 30 Nov 2015 at 9:23pm

A long while ago i was in the surf at Maccas (some call it K bay these days) and a violent storm moved in fast, with plenty of lightning. One lightning bolt struck the ocean nearby, it may have been just off the the point at Marks Park but I'm not really sure. It was difficult to tell the distance due to the rain and the fact that the flash was so bright it kind of blinded us. We were pretty much shitting ourselves after that, (at least i was). There was only 3 of us in the water. I do remember getting a jolt through the water though, fairly mild, like a 12 volt battery kind of jolt, nothing serious. My guess was the lighting hit about 400 - 500 metres away, but it's just that, a guess. Could have been closer or way further off. I know it felt close and the buzz in the water was noticeable.

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wingnut2443 Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 6:51am

Yeah, well, sitting on my deck Sunday arvo having a beer and "bang" lightning struck something very close out of the blue. Wasn't really the middle of the storm, most lightning flashes seemed a fair distance off, with minimal to no thunder inside the 30 seconds. Just lucky I wasn't drinking from a can!

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bigwagon Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 10:31am

It's definitely not a good idea. I have experienced this first hand, copping an indirect strike whilst surfing a beachie in Sumatra. I was sitting on my board, then suddenly it felt like someone hit me across the head with a cricket bat. Knocked me off my board and left me with a serious head ache and blood shot eyes.

Interestingly, there were no threatening clouds in the immediate area. There was some lightning activity probably about 15 km away, so I thought I was safe.

Julezz's picture
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Julezz Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 11:16am

I'm a linesman and work on live 22000 volts with specialized insulated equipment and believe me at the voltage of lightning nothing has enough insulation. If the charge hits you on its way to earth you are copping the full wack, if you are caught in a storm get low and don't walk as if lightning strikes near you there is a difference in potential in the ground between one foot and the other and that will travel through you to disperse. The difference from one foot to the other can be many thousands of volt so if you can stand on one foot

thermalben's picture
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thermalben Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 11:30am

Hang on, so the best thing to do is get as low as possible, and remain stationary on one foot?

Sounds like a Yoga class from hell.

udo's picture
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udo Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 11:30am

Julezz, what would happen if a strike hits the long antennae of a shark shield

Julezz's picture
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Julezz Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 5:19pm

Lightning or electricity is always looking for the shortest path to earth so if your sitting on your board in the water chances are it will hit you to get to the water. As long as the shark sheild is submerged it shouldn't matter. Water is a good conductor so the voltage would travel a lot further to disapate than the ground.

Craig's picture
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Craig Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 11:38am

One hot, stormy summers afternoon back in South Oz, me and a couple of mates were about to paddle out at Goolwa when this crazy lightning storm started to head our way.

There was an ambulance in the car park and I just asked for some reassurance, what the chances were of getting hit, and they basically had the same thoughts as me, no chance.

So out we went, and while sitting waiting for a set, the loudest, blinding crack of lightning hit very close to us, enough to feel a weird tingle in the water and air.

We crapped ourselves and paddled in straight away, and on reaching the beach I noticed my boardies were split right open at my arse! Obviously unrelated but I didn't feel or notice them tear while surfing, ha.

singkenken's picture
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singkenken Tuesday, 1 Dec 2015 at 12:19pm

Unfortunately the abovementioned Surfer at Suffolk park was a friend of my work buddy - I hope we are all thinking of his Girlriend & Family who are left behind to ponder what might have been .............

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 4 Feb 2016 at 12:54pm

So close!

7 News | Lightning strike

A Melbourne couple have had a close call they’ll never forget, when a bolt from the blue struck nearby.www.7news.com.au

Posted by 7 News Melbourne on Wednesday, 3 February 2016

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Sunday, 14 Oct 2018 at 12:14am

Climate Change has Govt up the ante on Lightning response.
As all here in SEQ know that insurance has Lightning payout count going thru the roof.

Read any/all BOM data on East Coast strike count...It's up & by a hell of alot.
End of last Summer 250,000 Lightning Strikes...Yeah! That's just one pissy little SEQ storm.

Lightning in my neighbourhood knocks out transformers.
Grounds my house almost every Lightning storm.Massive thunder claps on your head!
I hear lightning running thru this very appliance/Lamp/Radio or nearby Phone.
It never used to do that but now I know to turn stuff off as I hear it run thru the wires.

& No! I'm not even in a Lightning/Hail Hot Spot...Imagine the fear of those in the firing line.
For sure their house 'd be like a disco before the roof gets blown off the joint.

Body corps/Councils are all now instructed to lock down Pools in Lightning storms
GCCC /SLSA all shut down Surf patrols & [BEACH CLOSED] signs go up!

To be honest the last Lightning storm I surfed with a crowd...
Came in by order of cowardice about 6 were behind me.On top of beach I turned to ocean.
Massive Bolt lit up the ocean surface...Coolangatta Gold record smashed by all 6 surfers!

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marcus Tuesday, 26 Nov 2019 at 2:44pm

Hey ben
A bloke was telling met about a beach on the mid north coast. he thought it may have been one mile, where the local geology mean that when it gets hit, the sand makes great glass balls that the locals run out after a storm collect and sell.

Have you heard of any beach like this with good conditions for lightning? I tried google but got nothing besides this article

Craig's picture
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Craig Tuesday, 26 Nov 2019 at 3:02pm

Wow, never heard of that one!

udo's picture
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udo Tuesday, 26 Nov 2019 at 3:32pm

Curiosity .com got a similiar story

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Wednesday, 27 Nov 2019 at 1:22am

The Legend of Lightnings Playground "Moreton Bay"
tbb & swellnet respects Quandamooka People & Place

The Nugui people of Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) by Uncle Bob.

Exclusive to swellnet...
tbb reveals a local secret to validate a dreamtime creation story.

(Part 1) Is the local secret & access is considered taboo by Marine Authority.
Moreton Bay Sinkhole (24m deep) was recently discovered off South Moreton Island.
Scientists believe it plays a vital role for Marine Creatures...but there's more to it?

This & other near smaller sink holes create dynamic sea / air temperature fluctuation.
This fuels rapid Water spouts that draw in Bay Clouds then Gondwana Clouds.
Big sink hole acts as a fuel pump firing off rounds of Ball Lightning at the Island.
Why only & forever Moreton Island & what is the result?

(Part 2)
The Big hard Sand Dune is known as Gheebelum + the little sand dune is Coonungai
During drought the sea laden breezes deposit dew on these dunes.
This constant deposit forges subterranean springs welling to the Surface
(Recall the Sinkholes in part one...Now you have a pump primed active live circuit.)

Aboriginal Story reiterates what local boaties retell of water spouts whipping up.
When Gondwana Storm Clouds converge they fuel the creator firing his shots.




This Cosmic energy fires lightning at the mirrored crest (Bosom) of Gheebelum.
This then deflects to give rise to Coonungai
This creation life cycle from Father seeding Mother giving life to child is constant.
Ever powerful it shapes Quandamooka People's world and (Life long) existence.

Dreamtime Story : Lightnings Playground.

Landscape Description

Tour group visits the heart of Lightning's Playground collecting Fulgurate Rock.

Quandamooka [NEWS]

Craig's picture
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Craig Monday, 6 Jan 2020 at 8:13pm

Surfer struck while walking back on beach at Dee Why this evening. Revived by passers by. Hopefully OK. 

wally's picture
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wally Monday, 6 Jan 2020 at 11:20pm

Back in the day, Roy Sullivan (park ranger), used to be occasionally interviewed on TV shows like “That’s Incredible!”.
He was a classic, ordinary, matter of fact, quietly spoken old American rural guy, except that he said he’d been struck by lightning 7 times and had survived. All cases separate, documented and with enough evidence to be given some credence. What a character!


Distracted's picture
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Distracted Tuesday, 7 Jan 2020 at 1:31pm

Marcus, re the fulgurite (fused sand from lightening). Might find it on the beach but high and exposed sand dunes are probably a better place to look. I found several pieces on the dunes at Fraser Island.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Wednesday, 8 Jan 2020 at 6:38pm

Lightning Strike advice reflects the stats...it's all up in the air!
Of recent times "experts" now cloud our old age wisdom.
Listed below are half truths that form half of our understanding of lightning.

Lightning is or isn't attracted to metal? (tbb will argue the videos show it is!)
eg: Strikes on Fishing /Boating in Storms...represent marina tidings not High Seas !
One quarter killed by lightning were hiding under a tree. (This rings true)
Highest strike zone won't represent as highly as an outdoor recreation hub toll.

tbb never set out to reveal exclusive 'trigger points'...so as such they must be shared.
By way or examining (pausing video's) all can witness subtle lightning triggers.
All exclusive to swellnet readers here & now!

Most vidz reveal obvious but simple actions at wrong place at a deadly time.
Is it possible many of strikes seem preventable...read on...

Kakadu Binij creation spirit is Namarrgon lightning man with head axing thru clouds.
The surrounding lightning ravaged outcrops are in Namarrgon's image...

94% of Lightning strikes land, from dry thermals as the instigator (Not sea Cyclones)
In fact most lightning is not during rain hence the phrase a Bolt From The Blue.
Lightning can strike as far as 20kms from the storm cell.
Only 3-5% of death & injuries are directly from strikes, they're mostly from hot zone.

(World 'flash rate' mostly features Congo / Colombia / Pakistan / India / Nigeria)
World lightning fatalities - estimated at 6,000-24,000 + 240,000 injuries
The stats are blurred as mostly as always the poor labouring areas fall victim.

Australian towns that rank in top 500.
WA - 61 Derby + 83 Kununarra + 477 Halls Ck
NT - 355 McMinns + 355 Darwin
Qld - 471 Mt Isa Qld
Australian fatalities- 5 > 10 / year + 100 'seriously' injured.

Natural target areas (aside from North/West zones)
The high points on the great Dividing (Main Range) are known lightning areas.
Thermals also feature near Hill slopes / Headlands / Beaches & Trees (Isolated)

tbb notes: Wind whipped Waves / trees seem to generate micro Thermals.
As the condensed heat is released, it conduits an instant lightning response in place.
News / Vids show Lightning striking is most active -wave breaks near shore zone.

Wet shaggy Trees curtain heat then waft or billow thermals upward & Bang!
Also rising faces of headlands at Carparks or Tracks where cool / warm winds meet.
Removing Ground cover / Rocks as such.

tbb points out these subtle air changes are not just trees or waves but everything.
Buildings / Houses / Cars are no longer open so build & release air pressure change.

Built Environment ramps down from high to low...(Allow < 50m > from targets)
GC Q1 3x continuous strikes or 8 x per storm ('Lie down-look up Lightning Exhibit').

Bridge Tops > Lighthouses > Stadium Lights > Power Poles > Street Lamps > Masts.
The reason is not height alone but shiny wet spires attracting lightning...
Hint: Vids -Multi directional Power Poles cop more strikes as more wet wires radiate.
Never stand near larger Main Power Poles...so many examples of strikes online.

Small Metal structures & personal metal items. (Smaller scale deadly combos)
Don't trail Trucks or Line of Cars as vehicles whoosh hot air from road surface (Bang!)
Metal Scaffolding + Metal Fencing of any size will attract lightning.
Umbrellas are as they say lightning rods (see vids)
Many hands wave Dog leads / Car Keys / Watches (1 second later bang!)
Opening Car / Garage / Front Doors mixes instant hot fuel cell for lightning...(bang)
Most lightning in these vids were recorded within 20m of held Camera..(bang)
Just saying you must include 'camera range' and person's actions in the mix.
As said the lightning will either respond direct or 50m near from person's actions.

Every persons typical behaviour in a storm...watch this trick & learn...
Sprint out of car & Hot air fuel rush traces you to under nearest tree (Fuel load builds)
Raise lightning rod umbrella > Then Wave Keys out front to attract lightning
Open front door releasing more hot fuel for the poor tree to harbour.
Slight gust & it's beam me up Scotty, yer whole neighbourhood goes up...Kaboom!
("Shit did I do that!")
tbb is no scientist but swears this is shown over & over on the lightning vids!
We turbo charge the fuel loads then wave a red rag to a bull...Up she goes!
Sure tbb understands that Lightning finds it's own path, whatever we do!

Samples: Trailing a truck's thermal

Waved hands (Jewelry) / Keys + Doors +Umbrellas + Watches + Poles + Masts etc...

Keys + Umbrella

Hopefully share some solid Beach Guidelines in next post...

Finish with a Surfer's teaser. (Is that what it looks like, surely not one of those!)

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truebluebasher Monday, 10 Feb 2020 at 3:45pm

Surfers & Lightning (Guide Only)...Original 9th Jan 2020 - Constantly Revised
[Disclaimer tbb is not a first aid officer]
[ ILS Lightning Position is included & overrides any/all tbb's precautions + rendition]

Oz Storm Surfers ride the storm front and tourists often enough weirdly follow suit.
Pro surfers have been struck by lightning in Comp surf!
So we know without question the wave front defines storm front ..vidz show such!
Surfers + Lightning are attracted to highest raised point on ocean surface.

Cities & Ship/lanes charge lightning due to trawling of ion updraft > ice crystals > Bang
Meaning Surfing near a Port City or Busy Marina is an increased +Lightning (kill) risk.

US stats 2006-2013 covers a bigger ocean demographic with 261 Killed {R.I.P}
Leisure is 2/3rds > Fishing 46% / Boating 25% / Beach 20% / Swimming 9%
Swimmers /Surfers on boats to surf spots + Surf then fish same beach! (Victims vary!)
All can clearly see why Florida is a lightning Hot Spot.

Less centralised Winter Ocean storms Invert Dipole to jump Higher wayward +Bolts.
Usually these High +Bolts are shorted by Heated Negative Land based Storm cells.
Ocean +Bolts (10x the Power) Strike less but greater space & time (40kms)
These stronger Ocean Bolts have a greater statistical kill rate thru sheer power.
Note: 40km from Ocean (Covers most Oz -World Cities)
(Sunspot/Cosmic Ray) Bi Polar - Superbolts are (1000 x stronger again)
These Strike both hemisphere Oceans between Nov-Feb regardless of season

*Surfer's lightning avoidance & protection measures largely credits ILS (re:link)

*Avoiding Lightning by using live online trackers..(Slight delay) All accessible!

*General Lightning Rule
16 kms is the sound of thunder indicating you are already in Lightning range.
Once you see a flash you are in the storm cell...Evacuate the beach.

*The Flash to Bang Rule:
From flash start counting & stop at Bang...next divide that count by 3 = kms to strike.
3secs =1km > > 30 secs =10kms

*30/30 Rule (10kms) = [BEACH CLOSED] BOM closures are enforceable.

US- 50 secs = 10 miles
Your next count/s determine if Lightning is closing in or retreating.
Av. storm travels 40km/hr ...30m wait > Lightning is 20kms (low strike = caution)

*Precaution or preparing for a safe exit well before surfing, could save your life.
Offshore Storm approaching has less but more deadly lightning strikes
Landbased Storm heading seaward has more less powerful lightning strikes.

*Unsafe Surf Spots in a Lightning Storm
Natural: Headlands-Islands (Zapped trees electrify wave zone) Beach/River > (High Wave strike)
Built: Ports,Shipping Lanes,Break waters,Marinas,Resorts,Pools,Esplanades all topple lamp posts.
All have elevation, busy shifting ions, electrical hazards, tracking higher above Ocean Level.
Unseen Lake currents in shift (Swirl) temp change that can thermal lightning

Safest place to Surf is also the least fun...
Low flat outta town beachie 40kms & an hour from Storm front...Go figure!

*Equipment check
Are you surfing a Lightning Bolt?
Remove all piercings + Go Pro + Shark shield mounts.
Metal clasp Legropes that conduct water to metal board clasp mount.
Surf fins house 10 such Lightning triggers.(Boardrider is a walking lightning rod!)
Check watches, wettie zips, Boardies metal buttons, tbb rips off Eyelet Pockets.
Stormriders need to go retro or hot rail yer metro toxic glowstick thru hell & back!

*Prepare Surroundings for safe exit
Low clear Car Park (Lower aerials) Gear ("Rubber Thongs!") left in clear view.
Many reasons...If you do get struck they'll see yer thongs & start looking...it's a plan!
Troppo surfers stay near to cleared low-line path to cave or 'thick' tree canopy
Isolated? Survey beach hollows (None?) board scoop a 1m sized emergency bunker.
Note: Near to exit clear from waters edge with yer thongs

*In the Line Up (Lightning Strike Impact Zone)
Apply Flash Bang to see if storm is approaching & plan withdrawal to that time.
Paddle away from the wave break zone as this represents the Height of the storm.
Best estimates say lightning paralyses 20m radius & 3m depth
tbb points out that lightning seems to gauge penetration proportionately to ocean depth.
Yet to see lightning damage to Pool Base, Lake Bed, Reef Face, Sandbank...feel free to add.

However a Manly inshore 'Underwater' Diver was killed by Bolt
Other cave divers were hit heavy by bolt some 5m down & 30m from cave entrance

D'Bah Surfer lives to tell of rare hit in the surf.
Possible -Strike as water never boiled but reveals Shock bubble curtain.
One would assume that the bubble curtain has a charged effect beneath.

Firstly: Ensure body is soaked in more Salt Water than fresh rain.
Saltwater should expel the current faster causing less shock.

Forget Surfing as chem laser cutting a raised wave face at 30km/hr releases ions.
Tall shining lightning rod stirring up thermals makes great lightning fuel in a storm cell.

Rather by exposing least of your body to strike is best option.
Board Option : Sit middle of board feet touching head tucked with hand over ears.
Least area being your waist to take a one sided blast minimising charge effect.
This position removes high open attractants & best shields off the current

Swim Option : (Lowest is safest) Lift & join feet off seabed & lower body to neck line.
Join (Meaning) Use hands & feet close to body to maintain flotation (No standing)
If possible to cover ears with hair/wrists & neck on surface level.(Forming a shield)

These positions minimise body surface/points to a strike (More of a Tingle!)
Of course this works best away from bobbing on highest wave Peak.

*Safe Distance / Time of Strike response.
12m is considered a safe distance & rescuers can enter quickly thereafter.
Up to 14 people have been known to be affected by ocean/beach strikes
Many drown due to the stun effect.

Lightning striking a Pier Light Pole or tree into the wave zone.
This results in an earthed charge electrifying continuously over greater time & distance.
Rescuers must evacuate & not enter this larger live zone.

*Exiting the Surf (During the height of a Storm) Note this is not advice at this point!
If you haven't noticed, yer in a Lightning zone (pure & simple) You are on yer own.
Others back up tbb on inshore beach thermals + wavefront make it really active!

If possible, fill up wettie with saltwater for dousing head as rain is fresh water.
Free yer leggie & board then clear surfzone (Waters edge is the hot spot )
Go as low as you can to 100m clear & on.
Can't advise as to mounting board as higher alt lightning rod only to keep clear of it!
One must assume waving a board of ions attracts lightning.

Retreat to your 1m bunker & put on thongs...now assume [Lightning Crouch]
Ok! So you forgot yer thongs! FFS / Plan B (Strip Wettie and mat it under your feet)

*Beach Evacuation (Perfect Timing)
Emergency only! If possible you must clear the beach (#1 Strike Zone)
Don't climb Patrol Towers or Headland or enter tents aim for a thick bush or buildings
[Precaution] Path is now also a live zone (Use thongs) Time the Strikes to exit danger.

*Amenities / Foreshore / Victims
Do not touch Showers / Fences / Concrete Path
This may sound strange but touching another person is not advised.
Well apart from victims that is...they require your help.

* Life Saving Surfer
Move victim from harm to closed shelter / large vehicle - Do not touch active surfaces.
Now your safe to send for help...ensuring no one else is put in harms way.
Any call is made safely & clearly & kept brief.
Resuscitation procedure as per first aid practice.
Hoping all are fine...& storm passes.

PS: This guide lends freedom to include surfers into Lightning measures.
Crew salutes ILS on thorough & thoughtful nature of Lightning precautions.
Yes! tbb has participated in such Lightning Beach Closures & swears by them.

*Additional Wave/Pool Advice.
Pre Storm remove, turn off or avoid all attractants.
All near Tall or canopy Trees + Flags, Overhead wires, Lamps, Poles, Fencing,Open gates
Waterfalls,Slides,Wave Machines,Roof-Furniture Run off, Pool Toyz, Lane Ropes
All of above become trigger points to charge volatile 'Pool Chem' Water ions.

Should a bolt hit the Wave/pool whilst swimming DO NOT EVACUATE.
Pool water has a wider charge & whole barrier is alive.
You are safer floating still no waves mid pool, do not touch pool ladders.
Wait until safe (Not a science) Use a boogie board / Yoga Mat as exit means.
If one provided thongs to mount on hands as such.
If on own ...Wait & Approach edge slowly, sensing any tingle..use extreme caution!
Only when sensation has left can you exit safely with minimum engagement.

Many never realise they've been Struck by lightning until internal damage presents.
Always see doctor for tests afterwards.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Thursday, 25 Nov 2021 at 5:31pm

Continuing > Humans only brew storms to conjure up more lightning bolts.

[ Lightning 'Behaviour' during the Covid -19 Pandemic ]

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 27 Jan 2023 at 12:32pm

Unfortunate incident down Warilla way yesterday. Hopefully he pushes through and makes a full recovery.