safety should be your first priority! Chances are you won't be selling
the images you are trying to create. The market is saturated with lightning
shots, so it's not worth the risk.
Each year lightning kills an average of 200 people in the United States.
Chasing storms will expose you to the risk of being struck by lightning.
If you dont understand the risks, you should not
be outside in thunderstorms trying to take pictures or storm chasing
for any reason. Cells can quickly develop behind you while you are
watching an active cell in front of you. There will be times you think
you are far enough from the cloud margins to be safe, only to have a
bolt hit behind you. You can easily be over run by cells that are moving
twice as fast as expected. This is a dangerous hobby.
thunderstorms by reading everything you can on them.
What's the thunderstorm pattern in your area? In what direction
do they normally move? You can find reliable weather forcasting
including dopplar radar maps online from The
Weather Channel or a local TV station.
Understand lightning. How is the bolt formed, what makes an area
likely to be hit. The Dean of lightning is Professor Martin Uman
of Florida. Buy his books on Amazon here.
The web is a great place to start your research. Start with NOAA's
Severe Storms Lab and FEMA
's information sites.
Give these storm safety links a try: The
Weather Channel and the CPCU
Society. The folks at The
Lightning Trigger have some great common sense safety suggestions.
Use conservative careful judgment on when to pack up and get back
in the car. If there is not enough time to pack it up; be prepared
to leave your equipment out. If that should happen, you are not
being careful enough. Hardtop cars, with windows up, are relatively
sure your will is done and life insurance paid up. Check the organ
donor box on your license. Seriously, it is just that dangerous.
sure your next of kin know you do this of your own volition. We
do not encourage or recommend that anyone storm chase or get near
thunderstorm cells. But if you are crazy enough to do it anyway, be prepared.
go alone. Storm chase with a friend, but one of you must stay in
the car or stand at least 100 feet away. One of you must be able
to call 911.
For more on Storm Chasing, visit: Charles
A. Doswell's excellent site.
a cell phone. Otherwise, how will you call 911?
lightning survival tips. Sometimes, but not always, there are a
few warnings before a strike. These are from FEMA's
- Attempt to get into a building or car.
- If no structure is available, get to an open space and squat
low to the ground as quickly as possible. If in the woods, find
an area protected by low clump of trees--never stand underneath
a single large tree in the open. Be aware of the potential for
flooding in low-lying areas.
- Crouch with hands on knees.
- Avoid tall structures such as towers, tall trees, fences,
telephone lines, or power lines.
- Stay away from natural lightning rods such as golf clubs,
tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, or camping equipment.
- Stay from rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water.
- If you are isolated in a level field or prairie and you
feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning
is about to strike), bend forward, putting your hands on your
knees. A position with feet together and crouching while removing
all metal objects is recommended. Do not lie flat on the ground.
you and your partner know CPR? Visit the Red
Cross website to find a local chapter and take a CPR class.
It's something you need to know anyway.