Is it OK to go diving when it rains? How can rain affect to our dive? Obviously, the problem is not getting wet with the rain, because we will end up wet any way. But, even so, this is a very good question. Unfortunately, it is not a simple question that can be answered with a simple yes or no. The answer depends on many variables: location, type of diving, entry, exit, type of bottom, etc. In turn, another variable is what kind of rain and what weather conditions accompany it. So, today we bring you a guideline to help you in making your decision. Should I dive with rain?
HOW DOES RAIN AFFECT THE UNDERWATER LIFE?
In many areas, the fact that it rains is positive for the underwater life. The rain that falls on the earth drags nutrients, worms and algae to the sea. This activates the appetite of some fish. Small fish go crazy eating those nutrients. This calls the attention of the medium size fish , who start catching the little fish. And the big fish comes too, so the food chain begins. In other words, in many places where I have dived with rain, I can say that the feeling was a bit like there was a big party underwater. The fish were more excited, unruly and swimming around from here to there nonstop.
It might be darker, but, many times, when it rains, it feels like if it was a big party underwater. The fish are more excited, unruly and swimming around from here to there nonstop
It also turns out that the rain oxygenates the water. Something that activates the metabolism of some fish and makes them much more active in unusual hours. This effect is much more noticeable when diving in closed places such as quarries or lakes. In these places the water is more stagnant, what leads into oxygen-poor waters. When it rains, the drops break the surface of the water contributing to the easier gas exchange between water and air.
WHAT HAPPENS UNDERWATER WHEN LIGHTNING?
According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), a lightning bolt discharges 300 million volts into the water. When the lightning strikes, the energy expands horizontally across the surface and reaches only very shallow depths. In coastal areas, the chances of lightning falling on land are much greater than falling into the sea. Statistically, the water mass that receives the most lightning impacts is the shallow area of the shore.
The fish that live near the surface seek refuge in deeper waters . There is a small exodus of inhabitants from shallow waters to deeper waters. Thus, the reefs and sea beds seem to be filled with new temporary inhabitants, which produces a feeling that there is a lot more life than normal.
Tips if you get caught in a storm with lightning:
It is quite obvious to say: avoid diving or being in the water during a storm. It's hard not to be the tallest object around if you're in the water. If you surface in the middle of a storm, it might be reasonable to consider continuing to dive between 6 and 9m. Especially if yo surfaced away from the ship or shore and you have reason to believe that the storm will last little or will soon loose intensity. However, this option should be considered only if all safe diving standards can be followed: Enough air, no deco time,... Getting out of the water as fast as possible is usually a better option.
HOW DOES RAIN AFFECT DIVING?
- Underwater: In addition to less light, in many areas, rain carries mud and sediment to the water. This can cause visibility to be reduced just a bit or so much that diving becomes impossible. If you decide to dive, establish if necessary extra safety procedures and stay close to your buddy. The visibility may change even during the dive if it starts raining harder.
- At the Surface: Rain not only affects visibility under water. It can also affect us on the surface. Heavy rain can cause a surface visibility of only a few meters. It is very important that you keep this in mind. It could happen that the crew can not see you from the boat when you surface. If you dive from the shore, when surfacing you may not be able to locate where the coast or your exit points are.
- Underwater: In seas and oceans the water temperature might not change significantly. Nevertheless, in more confined waters such as lakes or quarries, the temperature may be reduced by a few degrees. It is important that you have this in mind when choosing your thermal protection.
- At the Surface: It is more difficult to remain dry, therefore slows down our body heat recovering . When you plan to do consecutive dives, take some protection like a waterproof jacket and a hoodie to protect you from the cold during the surface interval. After the dive make sure you can put on dry clothes and take shelter from the rain as best as you can.
Many times, the rain comes with big waves and strong wind. Think if the rain started three days ago so it could be considered stable. If it started raining 10 minutes ago, the situation could change sooner for better or worst.
- Underwater: Many times, the rain is accompanied by waves and wind. Underwater you will find surge at shallow depths. You can find currents that affect you during the whole dive too. Near the shore, the waves can generate zero visibility conditions. You could easily lose yourself. That is why it is a good idea, if the rain rages and the sea becomes tough, that your diving profile is well within limits. The swell could make your safety stop difficult. The currents could affect your air consumption. It is not the day to take things to the limit.
- At the surface: Waves and wind. It is not different from any other time when the sea is rough. The accesses and exits from the shore become more difficult. Make sure that when you enter from shore the conditions aren't close to the limit of your possibilities. It could happen that when surfacing, there are bigger waves so the exit is no longer possible. Everything moves on the ship. You may get seasick. Also secure your equipment with a bungee or rope so that it doesn't fall down. Consider the different exiting options and choose the one that you feel more comfortable with. Ensure that there is a drift line attached to the stern of the boat. There exist the possibility that you can not return to the boat so plan what to do in that situation. It is always advisable to wear an SMB, but today, with these conditions, it is mandatory.
TO DIVE OR NOT TO DIVE, THAT'S THE QUESTION
You can see that the answer to whether you can dive with rain or not, is not so easy. In any circumstance in which you hesitate to do a dive, it is best to ask yourself the following:
It is safe?
Obviously this is the first question you should ask yourself in any dive. If you personally do not feel safe, not capable or that this goes beyond your limits, no matter what the others tell you. Cancel the dive. Do not let others push you to do something that you are not ready for.
Ask yourself the following: What is so special or what I will find down there so it is worth of risking my life?
Will the Rain go worse?
It is very important that you review the weather forecasts. Think if the rain started three days ago so it could be considered stable. Maybe it started raining 10 minutes ago and therefore, the situation may change sooner for better or worst.
Will it be fun?
This question is very important. Diving must be, first of all, safe. Second, fun. Diving is your hobby. It is a hobby that you like and want to practice the rest of your life. For the bad times and the suffering, you already have the daily life. It's not worth it if it's not something that motivates and entertains you.
Have I done this before?
How comfortable do you feel doing this dive? Have you already done other dives with the same weather conditions? Do you know the dive site? Do you know what awaits you underwater?
What stresses you?
If the equipment feels heavy today, the bottle had a leak and now it is at 180 bars, it bothers you all the extra equipment you carry, the tank strip is loose because it is wet, you do not even know if you are proper weighted ... Maybe it's too much burden for you. On a day like this, it is better to go to the bar and enjoy watching the rain through the window with cup of hot chocolate in your hands.
So, as a conclusion, we recommend that whenever the rain is the protagonist of your diving plan, use the common sense to take decisions. There is no shame in cancelling a dive. Neither do you have to be alarmist and cancel a dive because four drops fall from the sky. Diving has this issue. We have to learn to deal with the weather conditions. We can not control what weather conditions we will have the desired diving day. But we can control what decisions we make with the weather that has been given to us.