Hiwassee. Friends of mine were cowering on exposed rocks on the Chattooga, and were lightly zapped by a strike nearby. But in my 35+ years of canoeing, verifiable reports of people zapped on the rivers are rare.
That's why I say, NOAA is focused on the finite possibility that people may be outside and take a direct strike. They say, go indoors instead, and no one can argue with that. If you put maximum priority on not taking the big lightning hit that will kill or maim you, get indoors, stay indoors.
But NOAA does not admit that the chance of a direct hit is low. It isn't irrational to be enjoying the outdoors in a thunderstorm. It's even kind of exciting.
Touring Kayak Paddles
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