9/8/19 – Day 5 – LaGrande to Huntington, OR
Thunderstorms and Lightning!
On two occasions so far I have dodged thunderstorms crossing the Blue Mountains in Oregon. As I rested at the top of one range, I heard the very unsettling sound of thunder below me. I asked the hunters who said the storm was to the west and had already passed. I thought the storms generally came from the South and East but I was told they could come from any direction in these mountains.
I strolled over to read what the information board had to say about lightning. There was a poster that read “WARNING: What to do in a Lightning Storm”
-Get to low ground and inside a building. (I was 4,900 feet up and there were no buildings in sight)
-If you feel your hair standing up or detect a blue haze, get down immediately. Static electricity signals an eminent lighting strike.
-Stay away from tall trees and open exposed areas.
-Remove backpacks and other equipment with metal. Place them low to the ground and move away from them. (Yikes, I thought, Sunride is all metal standing over six feet tall. She would be a lightning rod!)
-Avoid electric equipment of all types. (Sunride is all electric!)
At the Community College I had lectured on protecting solar equipment from lightning. I remember the example of a dead cow in an open pasture. It wasn’t that the cow was directly hit by lightning, but a nearby strike energized the ground to the tune of a million volts passing through the cow’s legs and past the heart.
I suppose if I’m caught in a lightning storm the thing to do is lay Sunride on her side and run for cover as far away as I can quickly move. I just hope it happens during the day, not at night and when I’m at lower elevations.