A storm in the mountains, what should you do?

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Summer is, of course, the season to enjoy the mountains, but it's also a time of extreme heat, which means the stormy season!

 

Joël Roux, a mountain guide, gives us the right actions to adopt in the event of a mountain storm. The mountain sky is temperamental and sometimes has funny surprises in store for you. All hikers have encountered this famous, surprising, violent, unpredictable and potentially dangerous storm. Joël Roux, mountain guide, explains this phenomenon to us, as well as the right actions to adopt in the event of a mountain storm.

 

-How can you predict a mountain storm? Summer is, of course, the season to enjoy the mountains, but it's also a time of extreme heat, which means the stormy season. The main concern is the speed with which the storm arrives; the weather in the mountains changes very quickly, before you've even had time to realize. So you need to learn to be vigilant and to observe the environment around you. You are advised to check the local weather forecast and observe the sky regularly. You can often spot the warning signs of a storm by the presence of very tall clouds with a dark base.

 Very often, the threat is strongest at the end of the day, but that doesn't rule out being unpleasantly surprised in the middle of the day.

 

- What are the dangers of a mountain storm? Certainly they can be beautiful, impressive and spectacular, but beware all the same. Apart from river flooding, rock slides, a sudden drop in temperature and hail, the main danger is being struck by lightening. Each year, there are several recorded incidents of hikers hit by lightening.

 

-In the event of a storm, where can you shelter? The question should be: which places should you avoid? The most important thing is to try to avoid stopping on a ridge or peak or under an isolated tree where you'll be the highest object. And avoid sheltering under a tree or boulder. You should also move as far away as possible from water, lakes, streams etc. as water is a conductor of electricity   

 

- What should you do during the storm? Put down all your metallic objects like your walking sticks and move away from them. The correct position is crouched down (feet together, arms around knees, head on knees) on top of your backpack, or on some other insulator so that your feet don't touch the ground. If you're in a group, leave a certain amount of space between each of you. Finally, stay calm and wait until the next clear interval to continue your hike; storms are intense but often short-lived.

 

- What equipment should you have? When you notice the large, dark grey clouds, presaging the gathering storm, or feel the first few drops of rain, before you get soaked, put on your wet weather clothing to help you keep dry, as humidity is a conductor of electricity. Anticipate the drop in temperature and slip on a warm layer  under your waterproof clothing.

 

And then enjoy your summer in the mountains!

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