Hopefully you’ll never need this thunderstorm advice. Hopefully every single day of your vacation will be nothing but clear blue skies, with the occasional fluffy white cloud.

But sometimes mother nature doesn’t appreciate how hard you’ve worked for your Panama City Beach vacation, and you may experience a thunderstorm.

So it’s always smart to be prepared, and know what to expect and what to do during a Panama City Beach Thunderstorm.

Thunderstorm Facts

  1. The average thunderstorm is spread out over 15 miles and only lasts around 30 minutes.
  2. Most thunderstorms happen during Spring and Summer.
  3. Warm and humid conditions are the perfect recipe for thunderstorms.
  4. The odds of being struck by lightning in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000

Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For more helpful safety tips visit lightningsafety.noaa.gov.


The bottom line is; whenever you are outside and hear thunder – it’s time to move inside.

From the moment you first hear thunder, you are at risk of being struck by lightning.


What to do if you’re on the Beach.

thunderstorm on the beachYou should immediately leave the water.

Electricity is conducted well by salt water. You don’t want to be anywhere near water during a thunderstorm with lightning.

You also do not want to take shelter underneath a beach umbrella.

Either the pole itself, or the ribs that extend tot he edges will be made of metal… The perfect conductor of electricity!

So as tempting as it might be to “Take shelter” under the umbrella, it’s not a good idea.

Instead, leave the beach and take shelter in a car or the nearest building.

It’s also a good idea to not go back out for at least 30 minutes after you last hear thunder.


What do to if you’re in a Swimming Pool.

thunderstorm swimming poolGet out of the pool / hot tub quickly and safely.

Head inside to the lobby, or go back to your room to sit out the storm.

Just be sure to stay off corded phones, computers, and other electrical equipment that puts you in direct contact with electricity.

Water is a conductor of electricity so swimming pools and hot tubs aren’t the safest places for you to be.

As with the beach, resist the urge to take shelter underneath any umbrellas that might be nearby too.


What to do if you’re Fishing from the Pier.

thunderstorm fishingEven though you’re not in the water, you are still pretty exposed out on a Pier.

The best advice is to head back to shore and take shelter in your car, or inside the nearest building.

It might seem tempting to stop and take shelter beneath a tree, but that’s not a great idea.

Especially if the tree is by itself and is the tallest object around you. That’s like putting a target on your back.

While you’re on the pier, try to stay away from any electric poles and any metal objects that are nearby.


What to do if you’re Kayaking in the Gulf.

thunderstorm kayakBefore you even leave the shore, check to make sure there were no storms on the radar nearby.

If you are out and hear thunder, then start heading back immediately. You don’t want to get caught out on the water during a storm, since you are the tallest thing protruding from the water.

Don’t worry about making it back to the point you left from, since chances are you veered off to the side. Just take the shortest distance back to shore.

Then take shelter inside a building, or if you are out in the open somehwere, get low to the ground, ideally squatting on your feet.

Just be sure to steer clear of any tall objects pointing up towards the sky.

If there’s no way to avoid it, and you’re stuck out on the water, then hunker down as low as possible until it passes.

Place your paddle somehwere secure, but don’t touch it. And yes, carbon fiber can conduct electricity too. You can use this time to think about how you should have checked the radar before you took the kayak out 🙂


If the rain looks like it’s here to stay, don’t worry, there are LOTS of things to do in Panama City Beach when it rains