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Thunderstorms are a very dangerous weather condition. As well as giving the world a light level low enough to allow monster spawning, lightning also has the ability to strike and set fire to the surrounding blocks, cause monster mutations, and possibly be lethal to the player. However, they can be a good challenge for a well-established player.
If you decide to go out during a thunderstorm, be prepared to fight monsters. Thunderstorms come without warning, and, due to the low light level, monsters can spawn. If you are not ready, go to your house as quickly as possible. If you are stuck outside accidentally, either make an emergency shelter (dig down three blocks, jump in and place dirt over your head or a similar design), or just try to fight the monsters and avoid lightning the best you can.
Avoid letting your health go below 5 (). After this point, you are in severe danger of dying. Also, try to keep your hunger bar full, because if it gets below 9 hunger points, it will start to deplete, and if it gets below 3, you won't be able to sprint. Remember that it is possible for lightning could strike you by surprise; however, there is only a small chance of this happening. Fortunately, lightning itself doesn't do much damage, but it will set you on fire, which is why it is good to bring a water bucket.
If you see a fire, put it out as quickly as possible. If you do not have a bucket, you can break the fire similar to grass. If it is not put out, it could spread, and, although there is a limit to how far it can go, it is still undesirable, especially if near the player. If you don't have a water bucket to put out the fire, and it's too big to break with your fist, just get away, and the fire should eventually stop.
Lightning can only strike in the rain. This means that snowy and dry warm biomes cannot have lightning, which cuts many of the hazards, such as fire and getting struck by lightning. However, you still have an "unexpected nighttime", as monsters can spawn, even if there is no rain.
Lightning strikes can spawn or change mobs in these ways:
- Every single lightning strike could potentially spawn a skeleton trap. (See below).
- Creepers will become charged if struck by lightning. This increases their blast radius to nearer TNT
- Pigs will turn into zombie pigmen if struck by lightning. These are a version of zombies normally found only in the nether
- Villagers will turn into witches if struck by lightning. These mobs throw potions at the player and drink health potions themselves.
Remember that this will only occur if the mob(s) in question are within 3 blocks of the lightning. However, it is not an inconsiderable threat.
Skeleton traps look like bone/skeletal horses when created, but as soon as the player comes within ten blocks, the horse will turn into a skeleton horseman, and two more will spawn either side of it. They are very hard to kill, having a AI of a skeleton or skeleton jockey and speed and agility of a horse. What's more, they won't despawn, and they won't burn if the sun comes out again, because they have an iron helmet on. Their bows are enchanted as well. Skeleton traps have a 0.75%-6.75% chance of spawning in a lightning strike, depending on difficulty. They do not spawn on peaceful mode.
Never get to close to a skeleton trap unless you're well prepared. It will be obvious that it is not a normal horse because it will look like a skeleton version of a normal one. The safest way to fight them is with a bow, and a shield. However, you may want to activate a skeleton trap for one of these reasons:
- The skeletons have enchanted armor and weapons, each with a 8.5% chance of being dropped.
- If you kill the skeleton, the horse becomes yours, which is handy if you are in a biome that does not have normal horses. It is also the fastest type of horse you can get without breeding.
Generally, iron armor and a sword with Smite is recommended. Alternatively, you can drink a potion of Invisibility. However, the latter will not work unless you wear no armor, have nothing in your hand and do not attack the skeleton horsemen. This is not necessarily the best tactic.
Charged creepers are much more dangerous than normal ones, due to the fact that they have a much larger blast radius, and can deal twice as much damage. If at all possible, use a bow to fight the creeper. If you do not want to fight it, DO NOT GO NEAR IT.
If you want mob heads, you can let the creeper follow you to a mob. When triggering the explosion, make sure that you are wearing good armor and that the mob is close to the creeper. If the mob dies, it should drop a mob head. To allow yourself to run away without stopping the explosion, trigger the creeper with flint and steel. Mob heads are one of the few advantages of thunderstorms, as a charged creeper exploding on other monsters are the only way you can achieve mob heads in survival mode (except for wither skeleton skulls).
Also see Tutorials/Charged creeper farming.
Zombie pigmen and witches
When killed, zombie pigmen drop gold nuggets, rotten flesh and, occasionally, their own golden swords. However, they are difficult to kill and are neutral mobs only triggered by harm done by a player unlike spiders and endermen. To replenish pigs, look for "wild" pigs, and bring them to your farm using a carrot, potato or beetroot. A separate pen can also be built to reduce the chances of losing every pig.
Witches are always hostile, and use potions offensively and defensively. Witches are deadly if approached by a player without nearby shelter or battle equipment, so avoiding them is beneficial when caught in the open. They drop valuable loot, such as glass bottles and glowstone, but witches are rare outside of witch huts, so it is more beneficial to build a witch farm than to try to use thunderstorms to kill them.
If you do decide to go outside in a thunderstorm, here is a list of recommended materials to carry in your inventory (in no particular order):
- Sword or axe (preferably a diamond sword, iron axe, or diamond axe)
- Arrows; carry 1 1/2 times as many as you think you will need
- Shield (in your offhand slot)
- Iron or diamond armor
- At least a half stack of a cheap block, such as dirt, to build pillars or blockades to escape mobs
- Plenty of food; 2 types is best: one that has a high saturation value, and another that has a high hunger value
- A bucket of water, to put out the larger fires from lightning
If you are a less experienced player, are in ultra hardcore mode where health can't regenerate, or just don't want to risk dying, you probably want to avoid thunderstorms. If you have a bed, Minecraft allows you to sleep through thunderstorms, so you can sleep and when you wake up, the thunderstorm will be gone. However, avoiding thunderstorms are more difficult to avoid safely than they seem if you don't have a bed to sleep through it.
First of all, the only border between you and the outside must not be wood, or any other flammable material. If it is, one lightning strike could set your whole house on fire, which could destroy your home, possibly set you on fire, and allow mobs to get in. If you don't want your house to be burned down, consider making it out of a non-flammable material. Otherwise, you will need to completely cover up your house with a material that does not catch fire, such as cobblestone. If you don't mind your house burning down but want a quick way to be enclosed from the outside for your own safety, make a tiny hut around yourself, made of cobblestone, dirt, or another in-expensive non-flammable block.
If you're in peaceful, easy, or normal difficulty during a thunderstorm, don't worry about having an iron door. Wooden doors will catch on fire but will not burn away, and they won't spread the fire either. However, if you're in hard or hardcore mode, the door still won't burn down, but zombies will be able to break down doors. Consider having an iron door, with a pressure plate to open it on the inside and a button on the outside. In fact, you should always have an iron door on your house when playing on hard difficulty, even when there is no thunderstorm.
If you are surrounded by a non-flammable block and you are completely enclosed from the outside, you should be safe. There are a number of things you can do so that you don't get bored. First of all, you can just dig down and start mining, and maybe explore a cave if you find one, but make sure you have enough materials for safety. Another thing you can do is organize your chests, and start crafting things for when you go outside again. Finally, putting decorations around your house is a great thing to do on a stormy day.