Can you scuba dive during a thunderstorm? The questions arose a while back when I wanted to go scuba diving and we found ourselves suddenly in the middle of a thunderstorm. At this moment we where still in the car and decided to cancel the dive and go back home. But what if the thunderstorm had hit while we were in the water. Water is one of the best conduits for electricity...
In Holland we have an average of 25 days with thunderstorms per year, spread over the country. The chance of scuba diving in a thunderstorm is slim at best. Nonetheless it's still a valid question. I'm taking the dives sites where I dive the most as an example. I always need to climb a large dike, no trees or other high structures and always a large amount of water. I asked some fellow scuba divers what they think about this subject and after a heated discussion we ended with three options:
You can stay below water at a meter depth, waiting till the storm has passed. This definitely has it disadvantages, as you have no idea how big the storm is and how long it's going to last. A second point is that lightning can also strike the water. If that happens it doesn't matter how deep you are. The chance you'll survive that impact is almost none existing.
You'll want to dump your gear the moment you come out of the water. Make sure it's secured safe and find shelter for yourself. Keep as low as possible as you're probably the largest object near the waters edge. You'll have to sit in the rain, wind and cold waiting till the thunderstorm has passed or at least the lightning has stopped.
Run as hell to your car and keep your fingers crossed. This is obviously the more dangerous option as you are the largest object near the water and you're carrying a tank on your back.
What would you do?
I would have to say that my decision really depends on the situation I would find myself in. How much air is left in my tank, is there any shelter in the neighborhood, is the thunderstorm overhead of still some distance away and do I need to cross a dike. With more information you can make a more calculated decision. However, it's a situation we all would rather avoid.