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Bad Thundertorms?

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I am just wondeirng if anyone has been on an extended cache hike (over a mile) and have a thunderstorm come up. Just wanting some ideas on what to do as we are going into the Storm Season.


What is the best actions, where is the best place to take shelter (I am in Ozark Mountain region). Or what others have done when they've been stuck in a bad storm.

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not caching, but many times hiking i've been out in thunderstorms. first thing is not to freak out. your chances of being struck are small (but real!). don't seek shelter under an isolated tree. don't seek shelter at a boulder. don't seek shelter in the mouth of a cave. don't huddle up in a group. if possible get inside a vehicle or building. if in a forested area, seek shelter in an area of fairly uniform trees (ie not the tallest tree in a woodlot. if in the open stay away from metal masses (a packframe for instance), crouch down on top of clothing or a soft pack and minimize the points of contact with the ground. the reason for a group spreading out is to prevent all of the group being struck. if someone in your group is struck, be aware that lightning burns can be much more severe than external evidence suggests. cover them to help stave off shock and seek professional help. if the victim isn't breathing then cpr is warranted to buy time until spontaneous circulation and breathing can be restored. the best advice is to watch the weather and seek shelter before the storm arrives. -harry

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In NY where I live, I don't go out caching if it's raining or projected to rain. You pretty much know if it's coming. However, while vacationing in southern FLorida once with a relative, where storms come up pretty quickly, we were just reaching the cache when it got pretty dark. Making a quick grab, we ran back the trail to the car, just making it before the heavens opened up. Well, we were 100 feet or so from the car and just got a little soaked. We both laughed about it as we sat in the car drying off and watched and listened to the technoworks going on around us. :blink:

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I live in tornado alley. I have had a log/note on one of my rural caches where the person abandoned a drive to the cache to go take cover from an approching tornadic storm. They can come up fast here!


I suggest first watching the weather. Avoid rural areas late in the afternoon and early evening on warm spring/summer/fall days when a front is coming in, and be prepared to monitor the weather reports to drive to a better spot if a storm comes in. A weather radio is great for that. I have one in my car as part of the regular stereo system (I love that Subaru included that standard). You can buy a small portable weather radio for not much money. Serious storms are by far most common in the early evening hours through the rest of the evening, although they can happen at anytime.


If a storm comes up on you, and they can suddenly form and do that even when the forecast does not call for it, there are several options. First, as much as you would like to take cover under a tree, that is a lightening magnet! If it is a simple thunderstorm (no tornados, but lots of lightening), I say run for the car. You will get wet, but hiding under a tree presents a lightening risk. If there is not really any lightening, then the tree route is likely OK. I have sheltered under pine trees in the mountains when there was little lightening and stayed amazingly dry. Carrying rain gear helps. You can get fairly affordable and packable (packs up quite small) rain shells and pants at web sites such as REI, Sierra Trading Post, Campmor, and Cabelas etc.


If there is a tornado, look for a low lying area such as a ditch, creek bed or ravine and lay down in it. The lower the better. Cover your head with your arms. If in the car, do not try to outrun a tornado if you can help it. Look again for a ditch to lay in or for a nearby house that you can beg for shelter at. Some of that depends on how far away from the storm you are. If far, you can drive. If not, focus on finding shelter.


However, I did once out-run a tornado in Oklahoma simply because there were no low lying areas and no houses where I was (I sure was looking for them)! If it becomes necessary to do that, keep this in mind: First, tornados and storms often (but not always) move from the southwest to the northeast or from west to east. So drive in a way to get you out of the path. E.g., try due south (that worked in my case and the tornado was soon north of me and moving away). Also, if the tornado looks like it isn't moving, that means it is coming straight at you! :blink: Adjust accordingly by turning at a 90 degree angle to it (again I suggest south, although once in awhile they don't move that way and you would have to adjust), while still looking for that ditch or house. I think most people would allow in a refugee from a tornadic storm. At least I hope they would!

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I lived in Southern Illinois for awhile (while learning to be a weather forecaster) and I have to agree with everything carleenp says.


Here in the Las Vegas area, and any other high desert for that fact, is the concern for flash floods. The clouds causeing them can be miles away in extreme cases. This raises the question.. Hike high ground to avoid floods? or hike low ground to avoid lightning? That's a decision best made on the trail, and so far we have made it through.

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Maybe not a T-Storm, but I had a storm experience today... A say run for your life if the weather hits hard. It was too cold for Lightning as a general rule, but it can happen in any weather and i fully expected it today.


Well this was the quite possibly the stupidest cache hunts I have ever been on, not a reflection on the cache though, but rather a description of the hunt conditions.


Around here the last couple day it has been rather windy. That is an understatement to say the least. The winds were gusting hard enough in the open to actually knock me down. This was on the flat lands below near teonessa(sp), at this higher elevation the winds were rippin. I just couldn't believe it.


When I got within 700ft of the cache the snow stopped my truck and that was when I realized how hard the wind was blowing. I got out of the truck, just pushing the door open was a trick in the wind. I pressed on taking the least obvious route to the cache as is a goecacher tradition. When I climbed the side of Big Bertha I was scared that I was going to get blown off the side of it.


The cache was in great shape. I signed the log and rehid it as it was.


Returning to the truck I heard 4 trees snap and fall to the ground. Needless to say I hurried along a little bit faster. Did I mention all this time it was snow/raining horizontally all this time?


On the way down the road I put my hand out the window at 60mph and felt a wind from behind me push my hand forward. About this same time I saw tumbleweeds passing me.


Thanks for a memorable cache hunt.


Gas to cache site...$5

Munchies for the drive...$8

Going out in a typhoon to find a cache...PRICELESS

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The first thing I do when a t-storm hits us freak out, especially if I'm camping. If I'm hiking, I used to run. Who knows where, but I'd take off and try to get to lower ground

Now I'm able to resist the urge to run, until lightning strikes nearby.


Shawhh's advice is solid and basically what most experts recommend. I do try to follow it when an unexpected storm hits, but all bets are off when the tree 20 yards away gets hit.

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Stay out of low area in case of flooding. I take big plastic trash sacks with me,(2) which can be used to make a body shelter if needed. Lower half first then the top. I always have a cap on so I make a eye hole and a breathing hole under the cap. can keep you warm and semi dry. If you need to walk out just add holes for your feet also.

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I take big plastic trash sacks with me,(2) which can be used to make a body shelter if needed. Lower half first then the top. I always have a cap on so I make a eye hole and a breathing hole under the cap. can keep you warm and semi dry. If you need to walk out just add holes for your feet also


They have these neat, new-fangled things called raincoats :laughing: .

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Stay out of low area in case of flooding. I take big plastic trash sacks with me,(2) which can be used to make a body shelter if needed. Lower half first then the top. I always have a cap on so I make a eye hole and a breathing hole under the cap. can keep you warm and semi dry. If you need to walk out just add holes for your feet also.

I keep 4 emergency ponchos in my geo-bag. I think the cost $1.50 or something.

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:lol: Last summer I decided to hit a cache that I had been putting off for quite some time.It required renting a boat or canoe at a state park and paddling about a 1/2 mile out on a public lake to the far side, tying off the boat and bushwacking from there. Thought I could squeeze it in, but just as I arrived on the far side a heavy downpour hit, complete with lightning. Thought I was #$@$@@* for the return trip. Luckily the rain stopped after about 1/2 hour and I paddled like mad to get off the lake! Surely Mom must have told me not to go paddle boating during a lightning storm, guess I forgot! ;) Edited by snowfrog
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When I was a kid we were vacationing at Current River in Missouri and were walking back frm the river to the campsite. It was about a 1 mile walk and a hail storm beat us silly. We were running, barefoot of course and ran right into a thicket of small cacti. We pulled small thorns out off our feet for several hours that evening

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I haven't been caught out in a thunderstorm geocaching (yet), but in my younger days I got caught in a thuderstorm while halfway up the second pitch of Sundial crack (Looking Glass Mtn NC). Thunder and lightning will get your attention pretty fast when you are 200ft up on a wet slab and carrying 10-15lbs of metal and tied to a very wet rope.


Tips for thunderstorms? Dont be the highest point, and keep your wits about you. You are much more likely to injure yourself if you panic. Then again, growing up in the mountains of NC, I have never had to deal with tornadic thuderstorms. Just the electrifying kind. :laughing:

Edited by The Bookends
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Great story, Stunod! :)


- - - - - - - - - - -


I wasn't caching at the time, but I did get caught in a very bad summer thunderstorm on Cedar Mountain in Southern Utah while horseback riding.


We were a few miles from the truck and horse trailer when a kind cabin owner provided us with some plastic trash bags since it looked like it might start to rain.


Boy howdy . . . did it ever rain!


At one point a flash of lightning itself made a sound at the same time as the thunder, sort of like THAWACK . BOOOM!!!. ;)


I had my jeans tucked into my boots, English-style, and when we finally got back to the truck and trailer and I took the boots off, I literally poured water out of them.


My friend's father said his rain guage measured more than three inches of rain in that one short thunderstorm.


They don't call that time of the summer the monsoon season for nothing.

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eStorm and I got caught in a Tennessee Monsoon back on '03 at GCGW5D.


September 13, 2003 by bitbrain (632 found)

eStorm and I arrived at the park just after noon today. Followed the little arrow straight to part 1 (the virtual component) of this multi. As usual, Chuckie's coordinates were right on.

I gathered the information needed and calculated the coordinates for part 2 (the micro component) while eStorm worked on getting the bikes out of the truck. We hopped on the bikes and headed to part 2. On the way I made a pit stop at the restroom -- confirming yet again that this park is used for some activities that are not 'G-rated'. There were some fresh ads for companionship on the walls.


So we continued on to part 2 (the micro component) and found it after a bit more of a search than I expected. I was showing a difference of 50 feet when I found the bottle. Still within my standard search radius, but not as close as I've come to expect.


I wrote down the reverse projections, converted them, projected them in the GPS, verified that all three were actually in the park and realized that all three would be in the park if I had projected them without converting. Hmmm... Called Chuckie to confirm that he really meant for these to be Reverse Projections. He confirmed that they were indeed Reverse Projections, so eStorm and I jumped back on the bikes and picked a waypoint to try.


As we approached our first target, the GPS suddenly thought that I was 4.94 miles from the waypoint, rather than the 50 feet it had been saying a second earlier.  Running through the screens, I found that I was also at 35000 feet altitude -- and dropping fast! Ok. Power cycle oughta fix it. Nope. Still miles away. Doh!


With the GPS acting flakey, we spent about half an hour just walking along the trails and looking into likely ammo can hiding locations. That wasn't working. Hmmm... Feeling kinda hungry.


We went to find some lunch. On the way to BK's Lounge on the bypass, I noticed the proximity of BMW002 to the corner of 412 and 45-bypass. Interesting. After lunch, the GPS was working again, so we scored a find on the Candid Cache.


Dark clouds were moving in. We decided to have one more try at CWL010. Back at the park, we unloaded the bikes again & headed off down the trail. After a short search, we located the proper set of coordinates and the cache. As I was signing the log, eStorm said that she felt a raindrop. Just as the lid locked shut on the ammo can, the Great Jackson, Tennessee Monsoon of 2003 hit.


Running through poison ivy & briars, we made it back to the bikes. The rain was actually coming down too hard for us to ride back down the trail. Pushing the bikes, we made our way back to the parking lot and into the safety of the truck. I have been scuba diving on occasions that I did not get as wet as I was today. Scouts honor. We were still soaked when we made it back to Memphis over an hour later.


Took the Green Goblin TB.

Left a 1GB Microdrive loaded with lots of caching photos and the What Is Geocaching movie. Ironically, I shoved a poncho into the ammo can for good measure. I should have dug the box back out & used that darned poncho.

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I think the worst thunderstorm I've ever experienced found me camped on the side of a mountain. I was backpacking in the Catskills with my two brothers and several friends and as we sat by the fire, we marveled at the light show to the north from a distant storm. It was pretty incredible as the sky was light, more than it was dark. We each gave thanks that we weren't stuck in THAT one.


Then about an hour later we started hearing rumbles. A quick check of my compass showed that it was to the west of us, meaning it was coming our way. It wasn't an ocassional rumble, but constant one, probably similar to an artillary bombardment. As it got closer I got up and started to run (this is at night, in rugged terrain, about 6 miles from the car). I finally came to my senses and returned to the camp just as the storm hit.


My companions all hit their tents, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. For some reason I felt better if I could SEE the storm. Lightning started striking all around, so I squatted on my sleeping pad in a slight depression when I noticed to my horror, our camp kitchen was two feet away. METAL. Pots, pans, stoves, utensils. Egads! So I gathered up everything in my poncho and dumped it about 100 feet from camp. And returned to my depression. Just then a friend came out and handed me a pint of blackberry brandy. He said you look like you need this. I took several large gulps.


Trees were bowing over, it was pouring, then hailing and lightning was hitting all around. There were several strikes in the vicinity of the camp. And as always happens, it was gone as quickly as it came. We gathered around, finished the brandy and hit the hay.


Then about 1 am I wake up to a rumble - directly to the west. Another one heading our way. This one was as bad as the previous one. As I was squatting on the ground in the pouring rain I see a tent in front of me open up and lit end of a cigarette. Then I hear my brother's voice "Who's out there?". "Me" I said. "You're out of your ever lovin' mind" he responded. I guess he was right.

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I've been outside in three tornadoes.


Worst was out on Oak Island in Lake Superior in '92 I think. It went right over the top of me in a tent. When the trees (big oaks and white pines) started coming down around the camp I had the tent fly open and was ready to bolt across a small opening and jump over the cliff to get a little protection. It was at night and by the time I was ready to bolt the worst of it was gone past. It took me the better part of a day to get the boat pumped out and off the sand.


The wife doesn't go camping with me on the big lake any more.

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I've attempted one of the less than easy multi caches in my area, we still get some nasty weather soemtimes in MN, but living here, you get used to odd weather conditions. I basically ran through the woods from stage to stage, hoping I answered the questions right (ya have to answer a multiple guess question, if you're right, you get to the next stage, if not, you get to choose again). Barely made it back to the car as a strong storm system swept in. This weekend I was drenched in rain once on Saturday, and again on Sunday. So I've had my taste of bad weather.


Luckily, I have a rino 130, which has a built in weather radio, and it'll alert me if there's nasty stuff coming.

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In March of this year I was within 20 meters of a cache on Camp Shelby, Mississippi when the sky turned black, the rain came down sideways, and the wind started to whip trees around. I had to abandon the hunt (for fear of my life) and walk/run the 2 miles back to the barracks. The storm started tornados that killed 3 people in Georgia later that day. It was scary to say the least.

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My dad and I were doing a multi that went around a fairly small, but kind of big resevoir.


It was perfectly fine up until we got to the third stage. Then it started pouring.


Anticipating what would be an easy finish to the cache, I told my dad to take the dog back to the Jeep. Luckily we had our FRS radios and both had GPS units.


I kept going, at this point I was on a varrow narrow trail with a drop off into a creek on one side and the resevoir on the other, and myself standing in a puddle. I was fine in the rain, until crack boom, there was lightning no more than a few miles away. Quickly, I relayed my relayed my location to my dad, and he was able to find a road closer to me than where we was parked.


He went down to the new spot, and once I put coordinates into my GPS I sprinted...


I have never run so fast in my life...

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Ohhhh yeah....


Last year, 4th of July weekend, I was with friends in the Uinta Mtns in NE Utah, and it had been raining off/on the whole time...we were tough, so we stayed. I decided that since everyone had given up on climbing the highest mtn in utah due to the storms (good idea) I was going to try for a cache on a nearby peak that was just 86 feet lower than that one. So off I went, with the clouds all around, and thunder off in the distance. I figured as long as nothing struck nearby I was probably still okay.


We had camped at 10,800', and i was probably 40 feet elevation below the summit (this one had a pretty flat summit, so i was stil .3 mile away from the actual summit, or from the cache, rather, which was on the other side of the summit.) and just as i climbed the last steep slope, i head a VERY loud crack as lightning struck the summit where I was headed. I thought for a few moments that maybe I could work my way around the summit to the other end, keeping below the top of the mtn, but I soon concluded that the less time I spent in my extremely exposed position, the better. I radioed to my companions back at camp that I was in some trouble, and that if they did not see me in the next two hours, that something really bad had happened. With that, I hightailed it for camp, fearing with each step that I would break an ankle on the loose rock that was the entirety of the mountian above 12,000 feet. Many times as I ran I heard the rocks on either side of me sizzling with static electricity, which only made me run faster. I knew that meant those rocks were likely targets for the next strike. I saw spots where lightning had hit fairly recently, charring rocks and grass, and knew the next one could easily be my head. I eventually game to a slope with fingers of snow reaching most of the way down it, and took the opportunity to glissade down this, wanting only to reduce my elevation as rapidly as possible. I headed straight for the nearest trees, and actually hugged the first one I came to. I arrived at camp in less than half the time it had taken me to get to my turnaround, and my friends had hot cocoa and grilled cheese waiting for me. I collapsed in my hammock, rising once before dawn the next day.


The next day, we all set off for the same summit, and, long story short, were able to reach the summit, and find the cache, which was already in need of replacement. Only time I've even been FTF on a cache that already needed replacing, but fortunately, i was prepared. As we started off the summit, thunder rolled in the distance.

Edited by bunkerdave
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I actually prefer it to be raining when I'm bowhunting, but this day was a bit extreme;


I was hunting from my climbing tree stand, about 30' up a palm tree, on the edge of a marsh/prarie. I had checked the weather, so I knew it was going to rain, and I brought along this umbrella thing that I tie to the trunk above my head. Typically it keeps me dry even in the hardest downpours.


Once the rain started, the wind picked up something fierce. It was blowing so hard that my palm tree stopped swaying, and instead, just leaned over at about an 80 degree angle. My umbrella thingy got shredded, and it was too dangerous to try climbing down, so I cinched up my safety harness, lowered my bow to the ground and rode it out, flinching every time lightning would pop a nearby tree.


In the peak of the storm, A saw a doe walking about 10 yards from me, like it was nothing.



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We were out in Louisiana SOG (weather ballon dropped to earth) hunting late one night or early one morning, when we came upon one about 1200ft off in briar thicket, with burned and dead logs making up the ground cover. Briars as big as one's thumb...We were about to pick pur way in easily enough, trying to keep from breaking our legs in the tangled mess of ground cover while at the same time trying to keep from being lacerated by these horribly thick briars in every direction.


We got to "ground zero" and startred our search. The SOG was nowhere to be seen, but a tornado-looking funnel was starting to decend from the sky, and the wind started whipping the trees around (we had heard and ignored weather warnings on the radio). Then the bottom fell out. So, here we are, in the middle of the night, 1200ft in the middle of the thickest briar patch I've ever seen, oh, and there was a creek running through the middle of it that was only crossable at a couple of points...thought I'd throw that in.


We ran, we got turned around, I dropped my GPS, thought I lost it, recovered it, met the creek, backtracked, met the creek again, tripped, and stumbled. Me being the big un in our team (just 2 of us), I volunteered to "bulldoze" us out of the briars from hell. For close to 800 ft in the pouring pouring rain and the horrible wind I crashed through the briars, stopping every few feet to step over the half inch thick briar vines I had piled up with my back and arms.


We reached the jeep, battered, soaked, bruised, and very bloody. This was my first attempt at SOG hunting, and I was tagging along with my "friend" (thinking back on this story makes me add 'friend' in " "). We sat for a minute, watching the wind beat the rain against the windshield. I pull out my cigarettes, which are now a soggy mess of paper and tobacco, out the window...no smokes for me.


After a few minutes of silence, I turn to my "friend".

"Jimmy", I say. "I'm not having a real good time." That was all, we finished up the night and the next whole day SOG hunting in soaking wet, briar covered clothes. It was definately a "memorable" event.

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Yes but not caching.

Was out on Lake Lanier in North Atlanta this past Sunday jet skiing with a friend. We we're a few miles north of the Buford Dam where we launched the skis and then it started to rain. Then rain really hard. Then we saw some lightning. We turned around to head back to the boat ramp. Pouring rain and lightning. The faster we rode, the more sting our faces felt do to the pelting rain. After we pulled our skis out of the water the rain stopped and the sun came out. Go figure.


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Traveling to Chattanogga earlier this week and stopped at Eastbound Over Monteagle in the middle of a freaking thunderstorm. It always seems to start raining just as you head up into the hills before Chattanogga. We were standing outside the rest area building under an overhang and just as I took a step towards the cache location...BOOM...lightning hit closer than I really care it ever to get. Scared the hell out of everyone at the rest area. Managed to recover the cache, but very nearly had to change my shorts. Not a good idea to cache in a thunderstorm!

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