Yeah, not to self: If you ever feel a "tingle" in the back of your neck (like the hair on your neck is rising) or on your arms...hit the deck man. At that point, moments before a strike, the lighting has chosen you as its grounding point.
I studied about the equivalent of 9 years of electrical theory (and the like) in college. Lightening is an absolutely fascinating natural phenomenon! The point of the bolt, on its way down, is the width of just one electron. The reason it's jagged on the way down, is because it is "seeking" the most negative ions in the air, on its path to the earth.
I certainly don't want to minimize the risk of lightening. 26 deaths since 2006 while fishing due to lightening strikes is no laughing matter. There was an article a while back about this in one of the Flyfishing mag's.
But I wonder how many deaths have occurred due to accidents on the highway while travelling to/from a favorite fishing hole have happened during the same time period. I have a hunch it's more.
We all take risks every day and it's good remembering that.
Every day is a gift.
I always thought Gierach's book title should have been "Standing in Water, Waiving a Lightening Rod". Only time I was freaked was at Lake Lac LeJuene in 1997 (date is easy to remember because I had just lost my dad a couple months into that year). I had just started kicking my way out on what was a nice sunny day. I kept noticing boats coming in past me and it wasn't until I was a few hundred feet out and started flipping around to set-up that I saw the darkest, meanest looking storm front ever barreling down the cut in the mountains.
It had been approaching silently up till then, but as I started kicking hard to make it back to shore and the camper, the wind started increasing fast and then came the electricity. There was a tree on an island in the lake that got smoked -- I'm guessing .2 miles from me -- that freaked me out. By the time I got to shore, grabbed my stuff (instinct I guess) and made a bee-line for the truck, it was dropping, marble sized hail sideways and firing off strikes left and right. I threw the rods on the ground and layed on the floor of the camper trying not to touch anything. A few times I felt a buzzing sound in the air (hard to explain) and I'd prefer not to experience that again.
Within an hour, the sun was making it's way back out and folks came out from shelter to resume the fishing...though a little more cautiously that day.
I wonder if many of the fishing victims are caught on open waters vs. in the mountains? Still, if that's God's plan, at least it's while doing something fun.
The awesome thing about lightning, is that it hasn't been completely understood. We know where it comes from, the dangers, etc., however to explain in with pin point accuracy is near impossible. It sometimes defies the why, when, where.
For instance: A storm will be a couple miles off, yet lightning will strike overhead to where you are, even though the clouds above you are minor compared to just a mile away or so. Scientists believe in instances like that, that the route for the electrons to travel is an "easier" path across the sky, then down to where you are, verses straight down to the earth from where the storm is at 2 or 3 miles away. Unfortunately, some little kids have been killed in soccer or softball games this way. The umpires thought they were well enough away from the storm (which was moving away from them), and tragedy hit one little girl standing in center field.
The basic answer to your comment, is that the electrical kinetic energy that is "built up" in the clouds, overcomes the static barrier between the clouds and the earth. Think of that as the "+" side, and the earth is the "-". Once the bolt hits the earth, the negative electrons travel from the ground, up the bolt, into the cloud, and neutralize the difference in potential - this happens at virtually the speed of light since it is traveling through air . The thunder, is like the "zap" we get from static electricity, except obviously a lot louder. Sound travels slower than light, and blah blah blah.
Believe it or not, heat lightning is easier to understand (theory wise) verses, what we would call normal lightning (sky to ground).
I read something somewhere that between drowning and lightning, fishing is statistically the most dangerous sport out there. I'm assuming that is because there are hundreds of thousands of people fishing on any given day, and only a handful of rockclimbers or skydivers.
I'd like to see a comparison of "death by drowning and/or lighting" statistics, to "death by car-crash-on-the-way-to-the-fishing-spot" statistics.
I think I know which grim reaper wins that one.
I wouldn't be surprised if more fisher people die of infections that they contracted in hospitals after being admitted for something totally unrelated to fishing, than die from lightning strikes. (Of course, infections contracted in hospitals don't single out fisher people, but there's something like 10,000 deaths per year in the U.S.A. from infections contracted while in hospitals. That's an average of 500 per state per year).
I'm not dissing lightning as a potential hazard, but I suspect that other, more mundane events are statistically deadlier to fisher people.
One could always lose the graphite and go back to glass or bamboo.
I don't think I ever consumed more than a sixer in one day in my entire life, so I don't have an answer for that one. I never did drink lite beer though. Could never get used to the idea of buying canned shitty tasting water.
A dozen or so real beers! That would likely kill me before I got to my car.