If If you’re you’re on on a a hill­top hill­top or or ridge­line, ridge­line, head head down­hill down­hill as as soon soon as as you you hear hear dis­tant dis­tant rum­bles. rum­bles.

EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -

Most of us learned as kids to es­ti­mate how far away a light­ning strike oc­curred by count­ing the in­ter­val be­tween the “flash” and the “bang”: Be­cause light trav­els so much faster than sound, you’ll see a dis­tant flash be­fore you’ll hear the sound of the thun­der. Sound trav­els roughly one mile ev­ery five sec­onds, so count­ing the sec­onds be­tween the flash and the bang, then di­vid­ing by five, tells you roughly how far off the storm is.

There are se­ri­ous lim­i­ta­tions to this method, how­ever. For one thing, in heavy storms it can be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish which “flashes” go with which “bangs.” And weather con­di­tions can af­fect your abil­ity to hear. In calm con­di­tions, you can hear thun­der about 10 miles away; dur­ing a hard, windy rain, you might be lucky to hear a strike one mile away.

A sim­pler method is the “30-30 rule.” A light­ning bolt can strike as far as six to eight miles away from the pre­vi­ous strike. If at any time you count less than 30 sec­onds be­tween the flash and the bang, you are within range of the next strike. (The other part of the 30-30 rule has to do with the time be­fore and af­ter the storm. Most deaths from light­ning oc­cur ei­ther 30 min­utes be­fore or 30 min­utes af­ter a storm passes, when peo­ple un­der­es­ti­mate the risk of be­ing struck and fail to take cover.)

Count­ing the time be­tween flashes and bangs might be able to give you some in­for­ma­tion about whether a storm is mov­ing to­ward or away from you, but it’s not worth risk­ing your life on. If you can hear thun­der or see light­ning at all, it’s best to take cover.

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