paddling when it unexpectedly starts thundering with lightning

My second worse was above the tree line on Pike’s Peak. It rolled over the summit and came right over us. It moved on so quickly all we could do was keep going. We were pelted with quarter sized snow balls.

@Celia said:
Above ideas if you get caught. Weather radio or equivalent service on a phone with an alert feature to try and avoid it.

Doesn’t always work… No coverage in Temagami or Lake Superior… We got caught in Algonquin long time ago…40 years ago on a long stretch of meandering river. There were no weather radios or phones… We were new at reading the sky… Now we are pretty good at noticing changes and how they correlate.

Actually no coverage at all north of Thunder Bay save Atikokan… Cell phone is kind of useless there.

Of course no one paddles there from here I suspect.

Happened to my wife and me yesterday. The narrow lake we paddle in is nestled against a very steep hillside, so it’s not possible to see weather coming from the north. We were about a mile from the landing when I heard distant thunder. We made a beeline for the landing. The wind caught us halfway there, but the rain hit hard just as we reached the shoreline. Got both yaks tied down on the roof racks but got soaked in the process. The lightning arrived as we drove the mile to our house.

BTW, as thunder shook the house our forecast said we could expect thunderstorms in approximately three hours. I think radar would be a better indicator of imminent bad weather


Re weather radio etc, if there is anything that always works all the time I don’t know what that would be. I am not seeing where OPer is from, but estuary sounds to me like there is a shot they may be an an area covered by marine stations. Can’t see that anyone else has nailed the OPers location.

Radar is better because human beings capture visual information better than any other form. I would use it at home. But where I am in Maine I could easily be in a spot with excellent marine coverage via the VHF and little or poor cell service.

Reading the sky is probably the most reliable in many ways, as long as you can see enough of it. There are spots on lakes I have paddled with tall enough mountains on the weather side that it is impossible to see the early warning signs from sitting in a canoe or kayak.

In sum, know what tools will work where you paddle and use all of them.

Even radar can fail you. When you check the radar pay attention to the time stamp. I have been checking WeatherUnderground / Weather Channel radar in the mornings and way too often the data is frozen at 10 hours previous. I send them emails when it happens.

Thought this video might be of interest.

Thanks everyone for your ideas.