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Scuba Diving in a Thunderstorm or Lightning
Greg - 9/18/2009 10:15 PM
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Category: Educational
Comments: 14
Scuba Diving in a Thunderstorm or LightningSo would you scuba dive while it is lightning or during a thunderstorm? So far, 47% of those surveyed said they would cancel the dive (and go have some brewskis instead :) Survey Results

NASA says lightning rarely hits oceans because the surface water does not heat up enough to cause the positive charge needed for lightning to occur...but lightning is potentially a big weather danger for divers.

Here’s what NOAA says about lightning and water:

- Get out of the water, it’s a great conductor of electricity.
- Stay off the beach and out of small boats or canoes.
- If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center away from metal hardware.
- Swimming, wading, snorkeling and scuba diving are NOT safe.
- Lightning can strike the water and travel some distance beneath and away from its point of contact.
- Don’t stand in puddles of water.

Some divers that posted comments in the survey above have been underwater where lightning has struck, so if you have to those members.

I say play it safe and "live to dive another day" :) But I am guilty of scuba diving many times during a thunderstorm so I guess I should follow my own advice.


Greg Davis


nick35 - 6/08/2014 8:12 PM
I actually went scuba diving for the first time the other day. we went during a light rain and within an hour it started lightning. we were about 15 feet down when me, my friend, and our instructor were struck. it felt like somebody was mad at you and shoved you as hard as they could but on all sides of your body head feet, pretty much everywhere. just a huge compression. we came up and boat had seen the strike they said the strike was about 100 feet across from us.
msdkirby - 5/17/2010 6:55 PM
Ive been in the water when a storm came over head and the light show beneath was cool. When I realized it was lighting I am sure my exit looked something like a torpedos wake going to the shore line. I NEVER want to repeat that event LOL
Enkidulumo - 4/23/2010 8:12 AM
I would have waited to get in the water but after that diver died getting out of the water a little over a year ago down in Deerfield area I will just pack up my stuff and go get me a nice cold drink or breakfast somewhere dry.
chazrich - 3/05/2010 2:59 PM
Those of you who stated that you are safe in salt water, or under water when lightning strikes might want to reconsider. Salt water does indeed conduct electricity - Just ask anyone who has gotten ahold of an electric eel or who has been close enough to a lighning strike to feel it - it’s simply a matter of water volume that might protect you. There is a lot of water in the ocean in which that electricity gets spread around, but if you are close enough to the point of impact you will get zapped.
Diver763 - 11/08/2009 1:15 AM
I’ve actually dove during lightning on several occasions and will, if possible, night dive during lightning storms. It is really a cool experience.
Pixel - 10/29/2009 5:23 AM
yeah.........not only does water conduct electricity, but I’m sure a diver that’s wearing metal does as well.....

Bring on the beer!! Will rather dive another dive and watch the pretty weather with my beer and jagermeister. ;)
Spear - 10/20/2009 10:52 AM
We were spearfishing at 80ft off Destin this summer and a flash bulb went off. My first thought was ’who is taking photographs?’ Then the flash happened several more times and we realized it was lightning. It also happened on the ascent but we did not feel anything. The storm was all around us as we climbed on the boat. I believe salt water must neutralize the charge so quickly that a diver is probably safe unless right at the surface. It seems to me that most off the charge before the strike would collect right at the surface.
Kemperite - 10/16/2009 9:07 PM
Doing a deco stop in a thunderstorm means some absolutely beautiful lights to watch while you are hanging at 20 FSW. Nature can put on one incredible show.
Fritz - 10/13/2009 7:30 AM
I am curious about any instances of lightning strikes during scuba diving.
It sounds logical that we should stay away from water while a thunder storm is going on, but exactly why is another thing.
I attend the severe weather spotter classes given by NOAA each spring and hope to remember to ask questions based on this topic.
I have lived in Michigan most of my life and have never heard of anyone being injured by lightning while swimming or scuba diving.
I had a school teacher that was electrocuted while scuba diving under a both that was charging its batteries. I never heard of the exact cause but can understand how that could happen.
Can anybody share any instances of lightning strikes whille diving and what happened?
BSDP - 10/03/2009 12:27 AM
I think it would be interesting and hell see if PADI would make it a specialty course and learn how to dive safely in a lightning storm
FNG - 9/24/2009 9:25 PM
Seems like if you’re on the surface in a flat ocean during a thunder storm, you’d be wearing the only lightning rod in the area. We lost a diver here a couple of years back that way. The lightning strike hit his tank while he was on the surface.
firehorse5 - 9/19/2009 11:45 PM
Well, I would try to avoid but I was actually diving in tornado weather in May. I was helping a pool company install the replacement drain filters at a BoyScout Reservation and my son camps there. If they didn’t get done that Saturday, the inspector would have prevented them from opening the pools on Monday. It was rainy and windy that day. There were three pools and when I came up from the bottom of the second pool the warning sirens were going off. A tornado had actually touched down in the next county.
scubashawn123 - 9/19/2009 1:01 PM
I just did dive in Cozumel in a tropical lightening storm in August. Very interesting experience. Not shocking at all.
GypsyDiver - 9/19/2009 10:45 AM
Pretty Picture!