Are You Weather-Ready for the Beach?

Thunderstorms can occur without lightning.

Answer: False. Thunder is caused by lightning! Lightning is a giant spark of electricity that causes rapid heating of a channel of air, which in turn leads to a shock wave and then a sound wave. This is why lifeguards clear the beach at the sound of thunder. If thunder roars, go indoors.

Heat exhaustion can lead to a severe medical emergency.

Answer: True. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen after one hour. Signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, heavy sweating, nausea, muscle cramps, and/or weakness. Prevent heat exhaustion by staying hydrated, cooling off in the shade or water, and wearing light-fitting clothing and sunscreen.

Rip currents only exist during bad weather.

Answer: False. Rip currents occur rain or shine. Rip currents are narrow channels of water that move swiftly from shore. Always swim near a lifeguard and observe conditions before entering the water. If you are caught in a rip, swim parallel to shore to escape the current or wave for help.

Most hurricane fatalities are due to wind.

Answer: False: Storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property from hurricanes. Storm surge is a rise of seawater pushed onshore by a storm’s wind. It generates a powerful force of energy, waves, and erosion.

Structures with metal do not attract lightning.

Answer: True. Lightning is attracted to objects that are tall, have a pointy shape, and are isolated. Metal makes no difference; however, metal conducts electricity, so stay away from metal fences, balconies, umbrellas, and bleachers. Take shelter inside a building or a hard-topped vehicle with the windows closed.

Danielle Swallow is a certified climate change professional with Delaware Sea Grant (  Delaware Sea Grant utilizes research, education, and extension work in support of resilient communities, economies, and coastal resources.  Danielle provides technical assistance and outreach to communities on emergency preparedness and building resilience to weather and climate hazards.  She is co-founder of the Resilient and Sustainable Communities League (RASCL – and loves hiking the Gordons Pond Trail in Cape Henlopen State Park. 

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