YD Scuba Diving Forums banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Imported post

Last night me and my dearest other half were driving home through a thunder storm and chatting about the next planned dive. She suddenly announced there was no way she was going to dive in a storm (shore dive in local lake)!
Despite my arguments that she would be one of the few fully insulated things around, there is no documented evidence of divers being struck (that I can find), more chance of being bitten by something etc she was having none of it.
I dont mind if she doesnt want to dive, its the principle of the thing.
Has anyone heard of, got proof of or know anything about the dangers of diving during a thunder storm?

Just not enough dive time.
9,135 Posts
Imported post

If by thunder storm you also mean lightening, I'd suggest those big steel things on your back might not be a brilliant idea as you get out of the water.

142 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Imported post

Fair point but, despite being wet, you would be better insulated (rubber boots) than your average tree/lamp post etc.

My point is that being struck by lightning whilst diving must be as likely as a BJ from the Pope?

1,222 Posts
Imported post

How about this, from the cavediver list last year (I don't think this is a problem in salt water due to the relative conductivity/salinity of the human body compared with salt water):

Lightening zap on the Hill 400 at Ginnie

Comments A Dive Report In Two Voices:

(Angie) After lunch on the day of the social, John and I decided to try our
first staged dive. The general plan was to head up the mainline, drop the
stages at thirds and swim up the Hill 400 Line until we hit thirds on our
back gas. Both of us had practiced carrying Al80's earlier, but neither of
us had breathed from them before. While gearing up we saw a storm coming
from the distance but decided that we would be better off below than in a
pavilion under a tree (uh huh.). We waited for a pair of divers leaving the
Eye and also allowed a team of four to pass us before attempting to carry
the stages through the Corn Flakes. We dropped our stages at the junction
room. I noticed that the current was so strong that the tanks were traveling
along the mainline with it. A strategically placed line arrow took care of
the problem. We continued up the mainline to the Hill 400 jump. I set the
jump spool and we headed up Hill 400. When we made it to the slope that
takes you from ~93 ft to ~75 ft I checked my air and found that I was still
about 500 psi from turn. That meant that John was about 600 psi from turn.
As I reached the top of slope, I noticed John signaling to me to turn the
dive. I thought it strange but I was not concerned. At that exact moment I
had a headache that rapidly increased in intensity to excruciating. As I
faced forward just before turning around, I saw lights dance before my eyes
and it felt like someone had thrown a shovel full of sand into my face. I
felt dizzy and a warm flush over my body. My first thought was of O2
toxicity. I lost trim and John was at my side. I signaled that something was
wrong and pointed to my head.

(John) I turned the dive because I heard the Voice, and the Voice said, "You
don't want to be here right now, you want to be back at the pavilion having
a few beers and meeting people". I always respect the Voice, so I signaled
Angie to turn around. That's when I felt a short convulsion run through my
body, like all my muscles locked up and released. What the hell? I check
Angie and see that she is signaling a problem too.

(Angie) We are conservative in our dive plans and never exceed 1.4 ppO. I
prefer to stay at 1.2 or 1.3, but given the symptoms, it was the first thing
to enter my mind. While attempting to recover, I noticed that we had drifted
back down the slope to 94 ft. I was feeling better, so it could not have
been O2 toxicity. John seemed unaffected so I thought maybe I had a stroke.
I OK'd the line and we started out. We traveled a short distance when I had
a convulsion. All my muscles tightened and my jaw clamped down on my
regulator. I found myself holding the line, conscious, breathing and
floating like a stunned fish. I could not move!

(John) I notice that Angie is exiting on the line, so I know she is having
problems. Then a second convulsion hits, much stronger than the first. I
look back and see Angie in poor trim, drifting towards the cave floor. Her
reg. is in her mouth and she is breathing. What's going on? I start to think
of oxtox convulsions. We both got fills from the same place at the same
time, banked EAN32. I watched them analyze the gas. It was OK. Did we
somehow get a hot mix? Or was the gas contaminated by something? What would
cause both of us to get distressed at the same time? The only descriptions I
had heard of oxygen toxicity spoke of full grand mal seizures, not
intermittent convulsions. It is very lonely to be 900' back in a cave and
think that both you and your buddy may have a compromised breathing supply.
I figure our only option is to exit as quickly as possible, but at the same
time we don't want to build up a lot of CO2. Keep calm and use pull and
glide. I give Angie a vigorous thumbs up, but she responds weakly and does
not move. I grab her by the manifold and head toward the main line.

(Angie) I recall John returning to my side and calling the dive with extreme
urgency. It was all I could do to look at him, widen my eyes and give a
feeble thumbs up. I was still unable to move. I was immensely relieved when
John grabbed my manifold and started dragging me out. He carried me about
300-400 ft. By the time we hit the mainline, I was kicking and pulling and
gliding on my own. I also had figured out that lightning had shocked me. I'm
a native Floridian and the symptoms matched the stories that I have heard
over the years. I was no longer worried about our air but I was worried
about another shock. We left my jump reel in place. I OK'd the line all the
way out of the system. We stopped to get our stages. I did not breath from
mine because I had too short a hose and figured I would lose the regulator
if shocked again.

(John) By the time we were on the main line Angie was moving on her own and
feeling well enough to return an "OK" to my question. I had not felt any
further symptoms and figured that if our gas was bad we would have been dead
by now. We were after all about 20' deeper than on Hill 400. But what had
happened? I was still clueless. We did pause to pick up our stages in the
Junction Room. We were a long way from the exit and I thought more gas was
better than less.

(Angie) We deco'd in the Eye and I wrote a note telling John that I thought
I had been hit by lightning. Until that moment, I thought that he had been
unaffected but he too had felt the strikes. There was a storm passing over
and we could see the lightning from the bottom of the Eye. It was scary.

(John) I didn't figure it out until Angie passed me a note during deco. We
had been zapped. It matched the symptoms and the rather spectacular light
show we were getting in the Eye. I think our training paid off; we didn't
panic, we did our best to analyze the situation and got out of the cave
safely. We were also lucky. If this had happened in a tight, silty passage,
things would have been much more difficult.

(Angie) Don't believe conventional wisdom. Never dive when there is
lightning in the sky. Ninety plus feet of rock and water won't protect you.
We were incredibly lucky. We could have lost consciousness, lost our
regulators and both been immobilized. We could have died. I think we handled
the situation as best as anyone could have.

2,314 Posts
Imported post

My very first open water dive took place in a thunderstorm. The thunder and lightning started after we had kitted up and were about to jump in. Frightening! I've also dived in a really spectacular thunderstorm on the GBR. When we entered the water the sun was shining and there were no signs of an impending storm. Halfway through the dive, at about 20 m, we were treated to the most incredible fireworks display. It was all over (though still pouring with rain) by the time we came up. I'm not sure whether it's dangerous or not but I'd think twice about kitting up and entering the water in a thunderstorm.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts