Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lightning Safety Lessons

I need to pick on myself today for poor lightning safety practices.  Much like avalanche accidents, human factors often come to play in lightning accidents.

As I was heading out for a quick mountain bike, a cell was popping over the Oquirrhs.  It wasn't much to be concerned with at the time, but I made a mental note to keep an eye on it.  Plus, I needed to be somewhere later and had to get my ride in.

The climb from the valley to the ridge was uneventful, other than running into this not-so-friendly fellow.

I know little about snakes, but I come across one about once a month in the warm season.  Usually they are gopher snakes.  I'm not sure what this one was.  It was fairly non-aggressive and wasn't rattling, but a close look at the tail suggested it may have been a rattlesnake that had lost the rattle.  I watched him slither into the grass and kept my distance.

Getting back to lightning safety, I didn't hear any thunder on the climb, but on the summit, although the main cell was in the distance, it was clear that the anvil had overspread me.

Anvils are capable of producing lightning, so being somewhat removed from the main cell is no guarantee of safety.  As I rode along the trail at elevation, I heard thunder, which was a tell-tale sign that I should have turned around earlier.

I made it home safely and a quick look at showed now cloud-to-ground strikes anywhere near my ride.  However, a post-ride assessment show it would have been best to wait.

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