Lightning and Storm Safety

June 19, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Since living in the Mid-west now, severe weather becomes part of life. Thus we get to photograph storms, lightning, and possibly (I hope not), tornadoes. I do not plan on becoming a storm chaser, in fact, I am much more on the cautious side of the fear and respect spectrum for severe weather. So how do I take advantage of the photographic opportunities afforded by these weather events while staying safe?

First of all, I become acquainted with all the safety and survival information provided by governmental agencies and I obey their guidelines. Secondly, I listen to and closely follow weather reports, warnings and alerts. In addition to this I also practice the following tips:

  • I only photograph on the edges of storms. That means that I shoot as the storm moves in, but before it becomes severe. I make sure that I am home before the severity of the storm picks up. Similarly, I shoot when the storm is just about over and clearing out.

  • I use numerous weather cell phone apps that provide life radar data. It is important to know where the storm is, and how it is moving.

  • I listen in on my ham radio (I am licensed) by tuning in to the repeater frequency. In our area we have active weather spotters during weather events. By listening in on their reporting I know what is happening where. I change my position based on this live information.

  • I stay a safe distance away (consult your governmental guidelines). As an extra precaution, I stay in the car with the windows rolled up (for lightning). My camera is set up on a tripod with a lightning trigger outside and does not need me to supervise.

  • I thoroughly scout the area where I plan to shoot weather from long in advance. I need to know alternate routes. I check that all the roads are open before the weather comes by leaving on the shoot early and running routes.

  • I chose locations situated on or very near to cross-roads. I want to be able to drive off in any of four directions in the unlikely event of a distant tornado. Once again, I greatly minimize the likelihood of such encounters by not being out in the midst of storms and only shooting during the edges of storms before they are strong or severe.

  • I make sure that my cell phone is signed up to receive weather alerts and take immediate action on receiving them.

Safety should always be our first priority, NOT the image. No image is worth your life. I share only my experience and what I do with this blog. I am NOT telling you to do what I do. Do what the governmental agencies say.


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