Staying lightning safe in the great outdoors

Regional weather forecast
Chris Vagasky
Meteorologist and North America Soundings Solutions Manager
Published: Jun 24, 2020
Weather & Environment

For more than 15 years, we’ve been saying: “When thunder roars, go indoors”. And in 2016, “See a flash, dash inside” was introduced. It’s just not safe to be outside when thunderstorms are in the area. So whether you’re on the water, sports field, or exploring the back country, how can you be more lightning safe?

First, be weather aware

Know the weather forecast before you go outside. The National Weather Service is a great resource for local weather forecasts. If thunderstorms are in the forecast, it is wise to reconsider your outdoor activity. Pro tip: use the search bar to type your destination to get the specific forecast for that region.

Encourage your destination to have lightning safety information available

Whether you are visiting a state or national park, a local marina, or a golf course, lightning safety information should be available. Encourage your destination to have information about where to seek a lightning-safe place in the event of a thunderstorm and to display real-time lightning data like that provided by National Lightning Detection Network NLDN or Global Lightning Dataset GLD360. Knowing where the latest lightning is located before you go outside will inform better decisions about outdoor activity.

Keep an eye to the sky while outside

While you are enjoying the great outdoors, keep an eye to the sky. Are the clouds getting taller and darker? It’s time to start heading to a lightning-safe place like a large, substantial building or metal topped vehicle. If you hear thunder or see lightning, don’t wait – immediately head to a safe place.

Be sure to follow Vaisala blogs for this week on uses of lightning data for human safety. Also, please visit the National Weather Service and National Lightning Safety Council websites this week and in the future.

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