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Trip Planning and Thunderstorms
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Beau Beveridge
(Roadtorque) - F
Trip Planning and Thunderstorms on 07/27/2010 16:44:04 MDT Print View

It is thunderstorm season here in Arizona and I have been planning an overnight trip for my wife's first backpacking trip. After planning the trip for last weekend we ended up canceling the night before because of 70% chance of thunderstorms with a flood advisory.

Part of the reason I canceled was so her first trip would not leave a bad impression with her being cold and wet in a lightning storm. The other reason I canceled is because I get nervous about being outdoors in a thunderstorm.

Do any of you put off/cancel trips due to thunderstorms or do you go out anyway?

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Trip Planning and Thunderstorms on 07/27/2010 16:57:40 MDT Print View

Depends on the risk you want to take and your experience...

Thunderstorms can be dangerous enough but being in the wrong place and wrong time with a flash flood can be deadly

Brian Camprini
(bcamprini) - MLife

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: Trip Planning and Thunderstorms on 07/27/2010 17:22:11 MDT Print View

Good call not taking the wife for her first time into a storm. I've turned a few people off taking them hiking, canoeing, etc, in lousy weather when I was younger. I really regret that.

As far as you going, though--just use common sense about lightning--but storms are a great way to experience nature. If you don't enjoy it, don't do it. But if you are curious, try it close to your car or somewhere you can bail out easily if things get sketchy. I actually have come to really enjoy storms and seek them out.

There was a good article here on BPL a while back about camping in cold wet weather in Scotland or somewhere similar. Might be worth reading even thought the locale is different, cold and wet is cold and wet anywhere.

I lived in northern Mexico for a while and learned that you need to be cautious about flash floods in desert areas. Don't camp in any arroyos. Great story about that in the book "All the Pretty Horses".

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
monsoon on 07/27/2010 20:48:30 MDT Print View

I agree with Roger that flash floods may be more consequential than lightning, though plenty of people get killed by lightning, and seeing a flood in the wild (from a safe distance) is a really cool experience. With proper route selection I don't think monsoon season is anything to worry about.

When I lived in Prescott it seemed like the storms would always open up at the same time every afternoon (on my bike ride home from work, in fact). Plan your trip so you can hole up out of the rain when the worst is most likely, then head back out after and enjoy the magic of water in the desert.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Trip Planning and Thunderstorms on 07/28/2010 09:49:05 MDT Print View

If you don't backpack here when there is a chance of thunderstorms then you want go at all in the summer. I can imagine it being different here under the forest canopy, than in the desert, where you very likely may be the tallest object.

I agree on it being a good call not taking the wife on her first trip. That is best left for perfect weather.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Trip Planning and Thunderstorms on 07/28/2010 16:24:52 MDT Print View

I just postponed a trip to eastern Oregon because thunderstorms are forecast all this week. That's because the first day of the trip is extremely exposed, to the top of the highest mountain in the Strawberry Wilderness. After the first day, it's no big deal.

I certainly would avoid camping where flash floods could be a danger and it's probably a good idea to wait for good weather for anyone's first trip.

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/28/2010 18:19:38 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Trip Planning and Thunderstorms on 07/28/2010 16:51:29 MDT Print View

As a Midwesterner, I really do enjoy thunderstorms without TOO much worry about severe enough weather to be deadly. Where I live, we just don't have many tornadoes, floods, etc.

A thunderstorm in a tent is, like others have mentioned, a great way to see another side of nature.

Now, the areas where flash floods occur, like where you are, are a different ballgame. Unless you're confident about your hiking route and site selection, I'd personally hold off, especially with a newbie.

My 3 cents. (Inflation sucks)

Edited by T.L. on 07/28/2010 16:52:31 MDT.

Beau Beveridge
(Roadtorque) - F
Thunderstorms on 07/28/2010 19:54:48 MDT Print View

I'm defiantly a little worried when I see thunderstorms being forecast. I have sat in a tent (twice) with so much electricity in the air our hair stood on end and the air had a buzzing sound. I was nervous and have been skiddish about planning outings in thunderstorms since. The desert can be a beautiful place after a storm but enduring the storm can be a little tense.