ThunderStorm In Mountains: Tips That Will Save Your Life ( With Video)

ThunderStorm In Mountains: Tips That Will Save Your Life

Lately, there has been a massive number of talks and research about the benefits of walking and exercise in general but especially outdoor exercise for our wellbeing.

We see more and more people really interested in their mental and physical health and there has been a huge increase in the lifestyle changes books, exercise clothing and tools, dieting options but especially outdoor activities.

The outdoor exercise has been recognised to have the greatest positive impact on our life. People started to really enjoy long walks in nature, challenging themselves to walk the longest, run the fastest or climb the highest.

Although, the UK is blessed with mild weather and not many dramatic weather-wise situations are around, still, there are few incidents which beg for good preparation.

Sometimes we need to expect the unexpected. If you are planning to go hiking, you need to take into considerations the powerful strength of nature and it is unpredictability. The hills and mountains can have a very quick and unexpected change of weather and you need to be prepared for hot weather or a stormy one.

Today I am gonna focus on stormy weather and what you have to do in this situation if you find yourself up on the hills or mountains during one episode of nature unleashed. A thunderstorm can be a spectacular show of nature, with its light and sound, can be very dramatic and beautiful at the same time. There is no need to be afraid and pray to miss out the opportunity of witnessing the nature unleashing. All you need to do is be informed and prepared to be safe while admiring it as it will be an unforgettable event.

There will also be mentioned informative data about how to react if you are indoor during a natural stormy event so even if you are not a climber you will definitely find the information useful.

Let’s Talk About Thunderstorm Facts!

ThunderStorm In Mountains: Tips That Will Save Your Life

Lightning can be possibly the most frightening dangers that a hiker can experience during the summer. I don’t need to tell you what you already know….lightning could kill you. With warm weather also comes a heightened likelihood of running into a thunderstorm while outside on the trail, particularly during the afternoons.

Hikers need to be careful with storms which produce lightning, especially in open areas where YOU could be the maximum object in the immediate area. As it is well known, lightning is likely to hit the highest point on the ground – so avoid being that magnet.

According to the National Weather Service, there are normally approximately 25 million lightning strikes which lead to 273 accidents and 48 deaths in the U.S., every year. In the UK, in the last 30 years, 58 people were killed by lightning, not to forget the last one a couple of weeks ago, up in Scotland’s mountain. Those casualty figures might seem fairly low. Nevertheless, in the course of a lifetime, your chances of being struck jump to 1 in 3000!

Lightning is an organic and phenomenal product of nature. When a lightning bolt is making a contact with the ground it carries approx 30,000 amps of electrical current. That it is huge. Making a comparison with our household appliances whose amps number are only 13. The lightning amps won, right?

Every day 8 million lightning strikes the earth. About 25,000 people are hit and killed by lightning in the world. But sometimes, is not the direct strike is the main problem. When the strike hits the ground will lead to a massive presence of electricity on the surrounding grounds.

Besides the potential of lightning to kill a person, it is also responsible for ignition over 10,000 vegetation fires every year. Speed of lightning? Some data estimates a 60km/s speed, while others indicate a speed of lightning up to 99km/s.

The Met Office has some excellent information and videos to further expand your knowledge on this potentially dangerous weather phenomenon. Here and Here

How To Stay Safe During A Thunderstorm

Therefore, the main question to ask is: what can you do if you are out hiking and a storm approaches? The first thing you have to understand is lightning can strike more than 10 miles away from that the centre of a thunderstorm – well beyond that the audible range of thunder.

Consequently, if you hear thunder, you are already within the range of a storm and need to seek shelter immediately. To measure the distance between you and a lightning strike, count the number of seconds between the time you see a flash and the bang of thunder. Divide that number by five. This can give you the number of miles that the lighting strike is away from you.

If you do get caught by a storm, and you are below treeline, here are some things which you could do to improve your safety.

On the hills/mountains 

The chances of finding a 100% shelter are quite limited. However, there are several situations where you can reduce considerably the possibility of being struck by lightning.

First, you need to get off the top of the hill or from exposed areas. Lightning can hit from miles away and you can be hit long before you hear them. If you’re on the mountain and see that the storm is coming, you have to get off fast in the lowest valley near you.

But if the storm still caught you on the mountain, and you have no way of getting down, avoid sitting on the edges of the hills and stay in the middle, it is better. Besides, try to avoid flat areas. The reason is that lightning strikes the highest points, and if you want to avoid lightning in a flat space, unfortunately, you’ll be the highest point. Search for a little platform with another platform near you with 5-10 times higher than yours.

Avoid taller or isolated trees

They attract lightning like a magnet. Then try to pick a shelter that is not in the way of waters that might leak off the top.

Avoid overhang or the places under vertical rocks

Although they might seem to you the best possible solution. Under the pressure of the lightning, these can break and you may be in a bigger problem. If you get into a cave, it must be large, and you must sit at least 1.5 m from the wall and have 3-3.5 m space above your head because there is the risk of forcing the forces of an electrical deck over the opening.

Also, do not seek shelter in a cave. Maybe you think is a good idea to hide there. If the lightning strikes the ground above the cave, will take the shortest route downwards, will be through the empty air of the cave.

How to survive a lightning strike?

If you don’t find shelter in time, you sit there where you are, in a squat, with your legs and your hands closer. Then put under you the sleeping bag or any non-metallic object that you have in handy, so in this way, you avoid as much as possible the contact with the earth. Besides, cover your ears, so the sound of the lightning will not damage your ears. This position will minimise the damage that can be caused to you in case you’re struck by lightning.

ThunderStorm In Mountains: Tips That Will Save Your LifeIllustration by Ted Slampyak

This illustration shows you exactly how to sit when the storm caught you on the mountain.

Group hikers

If you’re on the mountain with several people and you haven’t found a shelter, try to sit in the squatting position as far away from each other ( 10-15 m) to avoid the hit.

Electrical’s or metals

Give up your cell phone and other accessories that can put you in direct contact with electricity. Then put away all the metallic things you have with you and sit down as far away from them.

Don’t move from where you are, before it passes 30 min to the last lightning.

If you are camping in the open ground then leave your tent as the metal poles might attract the lightning.

Also, watch this video for a better understanding.

How To React If You’re Inside?

First of all

Do Not Panic. A thunderstorm is a regular natural feature and you must get used to it sooner than later. Learn about it and follow the steps to keep yourself and the loved ones safe waiting for the storm to pass.

If you have a company try to use this time of waiting by enjoying some social activities such as old fashion games where is no need for computers or TV to help you pass the time faster and better. Playing games or saying stories are a good way to keep your mind of the thunderstorm and the fear at bay.

Below are some tips on what to do if you are indoor during a thunderstorm.

1. Stay away from the windows and try to shelter yourself into the central rooms of the house.

2. Try to avoid the touch of objects containing copper ( sinks, pipes, radiators) if your house is not equipped with lightning conductors because it has good electrical conductivity.

3. Remove all appliances from the plug, including the TV antenna and the computer, because it’s possible that will not work after the storm is over.

4. Avoid doing a shower, because the water in combination with electricity might be fatal.

5. If you’re in the car stop and close the radio. In the car, you’re safe because the metal that is covering the car is a better electricity conductor unlike you. If the lightning hit the car then try not to touch the metallic parts of the car.

What To Do During A Thunderstorm When Hiking With Your Dog

According to NOAA ( The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), there are no precise records for animal struck and killed by lightning. However, NOAA at Texas A&M University estimates that hundreds of livestock are killed annually by lightning. Statistics data for a lightning strike in pets is almost inexistent.

If you are out hiking with your dog and you are caught by an unexpected thunderstorm you should do the following

  1. Find a shelter which is fully enclosed, so in this way, if the dog gets really scared will not run away.
  2. Try as much as possible to flee from the hill or exposed area.
  3. You should keep your dog on the lead so you don’t lose him.
  4. Never let your dog lie on the ground. It will kill him.
  5. Stay away from a body of water.
  6. Stay away from objects that conduct electricity such as wire fences, electrical wire and so on.

In time, whether indoor or outdoor, if you see a sign of anxiety in your dog when there are strong noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms, means you should prepare him to be able to cope better under stress. Here are some solutions for helping your dog:

1. If you want your dog to stop his anxiety during a storm, few months before planning a hike with him you should start preparing him by playing a CD of thunder recording at a low level at first, while you will give him some treats. Gradually, increase the volume over the course of several weeks or months, depending on how severe is his anxiety.

2. Also, you can consult your veterinarian for some medication that may help calm your dog and in this way his fear of storm will be reduced and he will listen to your commands.

3. The best and safe for a fearful and stressful dog is

Thundershirt Anxiety Coat.  

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BINGPET Plaid Dog Jacket Calming

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These two will help your dog to cope with fear and anxiety.

❗Read the review of the Thundershirt for dogs here❗


Hope you enjoyed reading the article and that you learned new facts and ideas about how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Be kind to your dog and include his wellbeing on your list of preparation.

The great news is that the number of lightning-related fatalities has decreased since 1940 when deaths were high compared with today’s number. There are probably numerous reasons for this, including a far improved understanding of lightning, which can come from an improved education on safety and avoidance.

Although thunder and lightning is a potential hazard which you should take seriously, especially when walking outdoors, there is no need to put off climbing and staying over on the mountains and/or hills enjoying great vistas, quietness and fresh air.

You need to be prepared, listen to nature and respect its wishes. Stay alert with the news and be weather aware if you are planning to go for a walk on the hills/mountains. Be sensible and try to get sheltered as soon as you notice the storm gathering. In this way, you might have enough time to be somewhere safe and sound before nature unleashes.

Respecting these rules will save your life.

Be safe and enjoy the outdoors!

❗Please, if you like what have you read, share the article so other people can benefit from it❗

Until next time,

Oana & Paula

20 Replies to “ThunderStorm In Mountains: Tips That Will Save Your Life ( With Video)”

  1. Holy crap man, this brings back an unpleasant memory from 22 years ago, I was stranded with couple of my friends on a nearby mountain during a thunderstorm. So basically we kinda had to do the number 4. in your article, we were at a flat plane though, whew… It was scary as hell and there was a lot of lightnings and heavy rain but no one got hurt. This is a truly interesting article, especially if you’re ever been in a situation like this. 

  2. Lightening definitely can be one of the scariest things when hiking. Recently when hiking I saw the remnants of a very bad storm that had passed through, very large trees down in certain spots. I couldn’t imagine one of these falling on someone. Great advice on measuring the distance of the lightning strike. This can be important to know. The info is valuable especially for those who are hiking a longer trail such as the Appalachian. Great recommendations thank you!

  3. Hello, and thank you for the wonderful article! I learned so much from it. I had no idea that I shouldn’t sit under the overhang and neither did I know that I should be “picky” about the cave, so to speak. 

    In point 6 you mentioned that we should remove all metallic things. Does it include all jewelry? Watches? What about shoes that have metallic decorations on it? 

    1. Hi, it is worth to avoid taking any jewellery or anything with metal on it when you go hiking. If those things are not a necessity, it is better to leave them at home. If you have shoes with metallic decorations on it, in my opinion, it is better to take them off and put them away from you. You never know and you just need to avoid to be a lightning victim.  

  4. You have great information about being safe in a thunderstorm. I would not have known to crouch down and hold my ears if I had no cover on the flat round. Another is I didn’t know lightning can strike 10 miles away. Very educational. I do check the weather if I am able to avoid.

    I know you talked about staying in your car if going down the road. I have always heard that if you have rubber soles on your shoes or on something with tires you can’t get hit by lightning. Is this true or does it just help eliminate your chances? 


    1. Hi. Some say that the rubber sole will minimize the damage of lightning if you are struck others say it will not protect you. But, every insulator has a tendency to break at some certain voltages, so probably the rubber soles will melt as well if you are directly hit. 

  5. Oana,

    Wow! I LOVED perusing your website. You have a super collection of posts and reviews, which I enjoyed reading. 

    Great information regarding life saving tips when caught in thunderstorms in the mountains. The facts on annual lightning strikes, deaths, fires, and speed are very important to know when planning hikes/walks in the mountains. I personally appreciate your research into this topic!

    I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and spend a considerable amount of time, particularly in the summer and autumn months, in the nearby canyons. In fact, I have 5-15 minute access to 6 canyons. Although mountains are a big part of my life, I did not know the statistics you mentioned in your post. 

    Good reminders for me to pass along to family members! My extended family of 51 love our traditions of BBQ dinner Friday evenings, picnics and games anytime, birthday celebration hikes, 4th of July party, camp outs near the large Provo river, and taking our dogs along for great exercise. We’ve even had a couple baby showers and a wedding reception in the canyons! 

    I look forward to reading more…

    What advice do you have for pet owners? How do we prepare dogs for storms? 



    1. Hi. Thank you so much for your question about dogs and storm. You gave us the idea to include a short chapter in our article. Please refer back to it here .

  6. Anyone who  is a lover of mountain hiking and trail walking would definitely agree that the information you have shared here is indispensable. Often especially during the season when rain is constant, it is dangerous when being confronted with a scenarios that is unprecedented like rain and storms. So, it is better to just stay safe and face it square on by having the right gears and knowing what to do to stay ahead of the situation. Thank you for sharing this here with us all.

  7. Great safety tips, especially if you plan to bring your family pet! Definitely needed as more people enjoy the outdoors this summer while social distancing. I’ve gone on a few hikes and my one fear has always been getting lost. Thankfully I’ve never gotten lost in the jungles where we live. Just in the news recently in my area, a group of hikers had to be rescued out of the hiking trails due to getting lost and one of them being dehydrated.
    We’re actually planning a family hike with the kiddos this week so your post came at the right time to be prepared for it. Any other tips on going hiking with kids?

  8. The weather in the mountains changes very quickly, before you’ve even had time to realize. So you need to learn to be vigilant and to observe the environment around you. Great tips to keep in mind when you venture into mountains. The Thundershirt anxiety coat for dogs was a new learning for me, and it makes sense to have one protect your loyal friend.

    1. Yes, I think it is very important to know how to protect and how to react when a thunderstorm is near.

      Also, you can read about the thunderstorm anxiety coat for dog here

  9. Well that’s mountain hiking taken care of with a well researched and informative post Oana.

    Great information of what and what not to do and what to wear so it will be very useful to many

  10. Such a comprehensive guide! I knew some, but far not all. The cave, for example. Although it is absolutely logical as you explain it, I’ve never though about it that way. Good thing I’m not a hiker-I might had seeked a shelter exactly in a cave before I read your article ;).
    I know much more about indoor risks of a lightning. We were taught as kids to unplug the phone and appliances, as well. Btw, isn’t in most countries regulated that a house has to have lightning conductors installed?
    Anyway, thanks for the dog shirt, as well, I was not aware that a weighted blanket is made for dogs, as well, as for humans. My dog is not scared, luckily, but I have friends whose dogs are frightened of fireworks each New Year, I’ll share this with them.

  11. Great live saving tips on protecting yourself from a lightening strike. I simply love the rain and I equally love the outdoors. It is interesting how it is easy to miss the potential dangers when enjoying nature. I already knew to avoid tall trees when it is raining, but I love how you point out to protect oneself from earthing by putting a sleeping bag between you and the earth. I don’t think I would have thought of that. Love your posts and will definitely be back for more!

    1. To be safe out there is very important. So many people died because they did not know how to protect themselves.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Much appreciated.

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