Storms on the Lake

Storms on the Lake

The captain is ultimately responsible for the safety of his vessel, crew and passengers. Weather can be unpredictable and each captain must make decisions in responding to changing weather conditions. While there is no rule book for a captain to follow in responding to differing weather conditions, we’ve tried to outline here some thoughts to consider.

  • Avoidance is the best approach.
  • Stay off the lake during stormy weather.
  • Storms frequently move through our area at 20 – 30 mph, so they can be upon you quickly.
  • It’s very difficult to “out run” a storm.
  • Generally you can calculate how far away lightning is by determining the time between seeing lighting and hearing the thunder. Each 5 seconds indicates the lighting is 1 mile away. That’s a general rule and does not apply all the time.
  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) recommends following the 30-30 rule

If the elapsed time between seeing a lightning flash and hearing the thunder is less than 30 seconds, you are in danger of being hit and need to seek shelter.
Wait 30 minutes after seeing the last flash of lightning before leaving safe shelter.

  • More than 50 percent of lightning deaths occur after the thunderstorm has passed.
  • If you’re already in safe harbor, stay there until the storm passes.
  • If you’re on the lake and a storm comes you’ll need to decide if it’s safer to try to make a “safe harbor” or to stay put.
  • If you decide to head for shelter. Make sure you’re not going to head into the storm. Heading for home may not be the closest (or wisest choice). Consider what the conditions will be like once you reach your destination – will you be able to safely dock?
  • Consider tying up to someone’s dock and getting out of the boat. Try not to choose a dock that is the highest structure around. Consider going into a cove or near shore where you are not the highest object.
  • Be careful that the storm doesn’t blow your vessel aground.
  • Avoid areas near a single tall object (i.e. single large tree & or structure).
  • If you’re caught in a storm and decide to stay on the boat and ride it out. Put any antennas down (lower the profile of your vessel) Stay low and in the center of the boat Keep hands away from anything that might be grounded (i.e. electronics, railings, etc.)
  • Have someone on board who knows CPR.
  • Many individuals struck by lightning can be saved with prompt CPR
  • There is no danger touching a person who was struck by lightning.

There are some good tips and additional information at:

Boat US Website
NOAA Website


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