Fifth time lucky

We’ve been very unlucky with catching fish this winter – four times in a row we didn’t catch anything. But today we caught three in ten minutes! We went to our usual fishing spot on Ramfjorden. Paul had lost his faith in fish to such an extent that he took a kite with him for entertainment while I was fishing. At some point I was helping to untangle the lines of his kite, so I gave the fishing line to Paul. Within five minutes he had a bite! A reasonably big cod… I immediately put the line back in the hole, and before I even started fishing I caught one as well, and then another one, though the last one was quite small.

Here’s today’s catch, 2.5 kg in total!

But the fish weren’t the only excitement today… While Paul was fishing, he thought he could hear something squeaking. Initially he thought it was just his hat rubbing on his jacket collar. A bit later he felt something like pins and needles in his leg but concluded that it might be his leg hairs getting caught in his thermals. Then we got a static shock from touching each other, but we blamed my new down jacket which is extremely static. We didn’t really see a pattern here, and we spent some time untangling the kite.

When the kite was ready to be launched, Paul pulled it just half a metre into the air and felt something odd in his arms. Getting a bit worried he came to ask me if I felt okay – which I thought was a strange question. Then we noticed both our hair was a bit static but that’s not uncommon up here. We discussed whether a snow storm could be dangerous for flying a kite, but since we know that lightning in snow storms is very rare up here, we thought it would be alright.

Paul concluded the pins and needles might be caused by some small muscle injury, and had another go at launching the kite. This time it came about 1.5 metres up in the air and he immediately felt something again. This time there was no doubt that it was an electric current – the strongest one he ever felt! We started packing everything as fast as possible as we didn’t feel very safe out there. We didn’t really know what the risk of being struck by lightning was, but as we were the only object on a flat plane, we thought we should move. I also started hearing the buzzing sound, it was quite bizarre and impossible to ignore! Here is a picture of Paul’s hair just before we left…

It’s weird how at first you find excuses for all the strange things happening because you just don’t think about the possibility – until it becomes really obvious and then it all makes sense. A little research on the internet revealed that the buzzing sound and static hair are often experienced by people in the mountains just before thunder storms, some have even reported St Elmo’s fire coming from their ice axes! We vaguely knew about this, but we didn’t think it would happen at sea level in conditions that didn’t seem very extreme.

Anyway, as the worst of the snow storm passed, our hair calmed down and the buzzing sound subsided. Feeling a bit more relaxed, we took some more photos :)

Oh and just to show you what Ramfjorden can be like in much nicer weather, here are some pictures we took at the same place, but last weekend. It was nice and sunny, but much colder – and we didn’t catch anything that time! But at least no risk of being struck by lightning then ;)

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7 Responses to “Fifth time lucky”

  1. Marga says:

    wat een bizarre ervaring Hanneke! Ik weet dat statische ladingen wel voelbaar kunnen zijn voor onweer..maar dit is echt extreem! gelukkig veilig! ik was eerst nog bang dat die (voor mij enge) vissen iets giftigs hadden overgedragen op jullie..

    liefs Marga

  2. Yikes… It was for sure related to the snow shower which must have been electrified. Lightning is very infrequent in very cold airmass showers, it could be related to the temperature levels at which charge generation occurs, which are closer to the ground, at higher pressure where the breakdown threshold is higher. On a smooth plane you stick out from everything else so the electric potential lines wrap around you causing a stronger local gradient. At night you would probably have seen the St Elmo's Fire which your heard squaking and humming :)

    For one thing, aborting the kite plan was a good idea. I doubt you would be able to keep holding on to it anyway because you increase the voltage as you rise it! Looks like you reproduced Benjamin Franklin's experiment very well :P

    I see it happen regularly with winter type showers over the Bay of Biscay in a very marginally unstable airmass, low cloud tops, they don't produce any discharges over sea. But as they reach land, lightning is triggered by high objects. With the lightning detection system you can then zoom in on these strikes in Google Earth and find them centered at windmills and towers, spaced by many kilometers (unlike lightning from summer thunderstorm cells). I don't know how long the rope of your kite is, but…. :))

  3. mooie foto trouwens van 14 maart, nr. 02!

  4. Hanneke says:

    @Marga, echt bizar inderdaad, en best eng! Die vissen waren trouwens voor mij tot voor kort ook eng hoor :D

    @Oscar, thanks a lot for your detailed comment, very interesting! It is very bizarre to hear this buzzing/humming so close to your ear, I thought I was going mad :D We didn't get a good photo of my hair but it was sticking out at very strange angles!

    But I'm glad Paul let go of the kite very quickly, and nothing more serious happened.

  5. Ben says:

    Those fish look yummy. :-)

  6. nicnik says:

    WOW very creepy to have that experience with the lightening!!! Congrats on the fish though :) I hope it made a good dinner!

    hugs,

    nicnik

  7. Impressive! :-) Congratulations… We tried ice fishing once last year, on a frozen lake, we caught one tiny perch, had to release it, then caught it again, released it again, and so on and so forth, about 8 times (!!), until we decided it was probably time to give up. Good thing we'd packed some sausages as backup for the BBQ, otherwise we would have had to go hungry :-)