electrical storms can occur anywhere on Earth, they are most frequent, and most severe, in the
huge storm clouds can build up seasonally almost every day.
They can be very spectacular
to watch but they can also be dangerous,
particularly if you
are outside - so it's good to know when to
expect them and what to do to stay safe.
When Are Thunder Storms Around?
As our Dry Season
towards its end in the
second half of
the year, the
weather gets warmer and warmer.
onwards it's the
'build-up' to the Wet Season - the so called troppo season when the
temperatures get quite hot even by our standards.
From about November
though it can vary from year to year), the humidity also gets worse.
not too bad but around lunch time the heat builds up, and
the warm air in combination with the humidity builds huge, towering
tropical storm clouds in the early
about in October - November.
It takes an hour or a few for these clouds to develop the storm, but
usually by late afternoon
have turned into
powerful electrical storms with wind, rain and spectacular lightning.
Their season lasts until
moonsoonal rains (the 'proper Wet') roll in and cool the temperatures
down, which stops the storms from building. That can happen anywhere
November and (more likely) January.
to Stay Safe in Thunder Storms
most people are out
of Cape York by November, but some may not - I have been on a camping
trip in Mungkan
National Park when the storms had arrived.
We drove 60km into the park in the late afternoon, just to turn around
and drive 60km out again... a thunderstorm is neither a safe or
comfortable camping weather.
If you are out and about
when a storm
strikes, or even if you are at home, it is good to know some thunderstorm
safety is good to know when camping out in Cape York.
It's one of them things that
we think we know, but when I started reading about it, I
were things I had been wondering, and there
are things that people are wrong about.
Metal does not attract
lightning, it conducts electricity. Rubber boots or car tires are no
protection from a strike. Things like that.
Thunderstorm Safety when
If you are driving as a
happens, stop the vehicle
try not to park under a tree or anything that could fall over in storm.
Be also aware of power lines that may break and fall down on/near your
Keep yourself inside and make
all the car windows are closed.
Do not touch any window
or any metallic parts
vehicle during the storm.
If the car is struck, the electricity will be conducted
through the metal
you - not through you.
But what if you are walking..
best thing would be to find
shelter. A safe shelter is a substantial building that is
grounded, maybe even with lightning rod(s).
Other buildings such as public toilets and sheds, or even worse - open structures such
shelters are not good.
may attract the lightening but provide no protection to you.
If you cannot find
in a shelter,
remember - the worst
places to be are
hilltops (try to move from higher to
as well as open areas
such as fields and
where there is nothing around you that is taller than you.
close to isolated taller
like trees and light poles is very dangerous too.
The lightning can be attracted to them, but anywhere it hits it can travel several feet along
so if you are too close you can still get hit even though it didn't
Stay away from fences,
and other metallic
objects and structures. Also remember that umbrellas, golf clubs, even
watches, earrings and belt buckles or coins in your pocket are all
metallic and conduct electricity.
If you cannot find a shelter or a car, do the lightning crouch:
Squat down as
low as possible on
tucked down and feet
No laying down - only your feet touch the ground as you need to minimise the contact with the
or you will be a more attractive target for the lightning.
Even if the crouch wouldn't save you from the strike, it would protect
your vital organs and you might get a
But of course, you could avoid
thing by watching the skies in time and not going for a walk if it
looks too bad.
It is not hard to work out - the
clouds of powerful thunder
are very distinctive, at least
here in the tropics (I am not sure about elsewhere) they are massive,
thick clouds that build in height.
When out on the
Like with walking, be aware
possibilities for a thunderstorm when taking
your boat out to the water - it's even worse to be out
a storm would come along.
Watch the skies and know the seasons and the times of the day - late
afternoons roughly between October and the start of the Proper Wet.
If you do get stuck, get out. And if you don't manage, stay on the
boat. It is not a safer
jump into the water, which is an excellent conductor of
Thunderstorm Safety at Home
Even if you are in the safety of your home during a thunderstorm,
there are still a few things to think about.
as well as corded phones and modems. Keep away from metallic door
power sockets, and anything that could conduct electricity. Water and plumbing conduct
so do not
bathe or have a shower, or wash your hands, dishes, or do laundry.
Close windows and doors,
and stay inside,
not on your verandah or
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