Lightning stories

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Posted by Joel N Rosenthal on 2013-07-05 20:50:13 in reply to NOAA Study - Fishing Tops U.S. Lightning Death Activities posted by Dan Blanton on 2013-07-05 15:49:14

Living as I do in South Florida, lightning is a frequent and daily occurrence..Lightning, like high blood pressure, can be a silent killer-one reads often of people being struck and killed by lightning striking out of an apparently clear sky.Usually, the reach of deadly lightning strikes is much greater than most people think-and as a result, I often see boaters tempting fate when lightning storms are about, but not directly overhead--mistake.Many athletic fields here now have permanent lightning detectors that set off alarms when lightning is within a certain range--portable personal detectors are available-but i have yet to see one deployed.
Although my wife was once thrown to the ground in our driveway when lightning stuck 20 feet away-our tenant at the time took the brunt of Zeus' wrath, as the bolt traveled 75 feet underground and electrified ALL of his refrigerator-the door of which he unhappily happened to be holding at the time.He quickly found himself on the other side of the room, shaken, but not fried.But my most frightening lightning experience came on Biscayne Bay when we got trapped for an hour between two cells, in driving rain and 30 mph winds, stuck in a channel with no opportunity to anchor or escape, while lightning repeatedly struck the water within 30 yards of our boat.To keep my twin screw inboard vessel from running aground, I was compelled to stand at the helm and putter in circles, while my wife and son huddled below in the cabin.Of course, I was fully prepared(not!)--I hugged the aluminum steering wheel with my hands in rubber gloves, and was wearing rubber shoes-praying all the while that the 19 foot skyward pointed metal outriggers would attract as little lightning as they had fish the previous day..A direct hit on my boat, I am sure would have left me fried and(what would have been left of me) probably permanently molded to those Rubbermaids and Nikes.
Now that I've added a radar app to my new iphone, I will be able to take precautions when I am wading or kayaking in our local waters.

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