I'm planning to attend Field Day this weekend, and the forecast calls for thunderstorms.

I can picture a serious issue with a bunch of temporary antennas set up in an open area when a thunderstorm sweeps through. This seems to have the potential for multiple fatalities (it has happened under conditions without the lightning attractants, such as soccer games).

How do field operators protect themselves (and secondarily their rigs) from lightning when a squall or storm passes over?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ We disconnect everything and retreat to somewhere indoors until the storm blows over $\endgroup$
    – imabug
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ The group I was with just kept operating, even after i directly asked (with a storm showing 10 minutes out on the radar -- i.e. 10 miles closer than the Weather Service recommends allowing for safety) if it was time to start unplugging and disconnecting antennae. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like you are the only one that had any common sense there. Next year, it might be wise to find a Field Day group with more common sense. Or start your own group, and lay down some rules ahead of time, even if that means calling off the event until next year. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not going to start my own club. I've done that once before (in model rocketry) and I will never do it again. Staying at home on Field Day, however, is a strong likelihood -- but then, why bother with Field Day at all? I can operate from home any time, on mains power or battery, depending on the radio. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't mean that you should start a club. Perhaps you can find some hams that are not in any club. Personally, I have operated FD from home before (IIRC, as Class 1D), and loved it. To each his own. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


They are not intending to keep operating in spite of a thunderstorm in the vicinity, are they? That would be very dangerous and foolish.

Well in advance of the storm, the group must unplug the equipment, antennas, and power and get into a suitable building or vehicles until the storm is well past.

There may be some good information in this search.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Honestly, I don't know what the intent is -- tomorrow is my first Field Day, never even seen one during setup or operation. The club folks seem intelligent, so I presume there won't be anyone still trying to work Zambia in the lightning and hail... $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ Well, and yes, they did continue to operate with radar showing a storm with heavy core approaching. "If there's lightning, we'll disconnect and unplug." I asked what if the first bolt strikes their antenna? I got nothing suggesting there was an actual plan in place to properly take shelter. Electronic technicians, EMS personnel, medically trained individuals, all just sitting there playing "lightning lottery." Under a shelter, but on steel tables/benches on a concrete floor. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon What was the shelter? When I answered, I had camping tents in mind. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 14:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ We were in a park shelter -- composition shingle roof, wood frame. But with all the wires running to antennae, we might as well have been sitting in the middle of the open area holding up umbrellas and golf clubs. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ Best shelter in that situation is probably your car or possibly the near by permanent structure that is the restroom. $\endgroup$
    – user10489
    Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 22:59

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