Lightning Safety...

...BE AWARE OF LIGHTNING WHEN THUNDER ROARS AND GO INDOORS...

THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE SOME OF THE MOST DANGEROUS WEATHER ON EARTH…INCLUDING TORNADOES… FLASH FLOODS…LARGE HAIL…AND DESTRUCTIVE STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS. HOWEVER…THE MOST DANGEROUS ASPECT OF THUNDERSTORMS IN COLORADO IS USUALLY LIGHTNING.

SINCE THE YEAR 2000…LIGHTNING HAS KILLED AND INJURED MORE PEOPLE IN COLORADO THAN ANY OTHER THUNDERSTORM HAZARD…WITH AN AVERAGE OF 3 FATALITIES AND 13 INJURIES EACH YEAR. IN 2009…TEN PEOPLE IN COLORADO WERE KNOWN TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING…INCLUDING ONE FATALITY. THESE NUMBERS ARE PROBABLY HIGHER AS STUDIES INDICATE THAT MANY LIGHTNING CASUALTIES... ESPECIALLY INJURIES...ARE NOT REPORTED.

IN ADDITION TO PRODUCING CASUALTIES TO PEOPLE...LIGHTNING ALSO IGNITES MOST FOREST AND RANGELAND FIRES IN THE CENTENNIAL STATE…WITH AN AVERAGE OF ABOUT 2500 WILDFIRES EACH YEAR. MANY OF THESE WILDFIRES OCCUR WHEN LIGHTNING IS GENERATED FROM THUNDERSTORMS WHICH PRODUCE LITTLE OR NO RAINFALL. THIS TYPE OF LIGHTNING IS COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS DRY LIGHTNING.

THE SAFEST THING FOR YOU TO DO IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE AND LIGHTNING OR THUNDER BEGINS TO OCCUR IS TO IMMEDIATELY GET INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING...SUCH AS A HOUSE...A STORE OR A CHURCH. A HARD TOPPED VEHICLE SUCH AS A CAR OR TRUCK ALSO OFFER EXCELLENT PROTECTION FROM LIGHTNING. ONCE INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING OR HARD TOPPED VEHICLE...KEEP ALL WINDOWS AND DOORS CLOSED… AND DO NOT TOUCH ANY METAL INSIDE THE VEHICLE. IT IS THEN RECOMMENDED THAT YOU WAIT AT LEAST 30 MINUTES FROM THE LAST RUMBLE OF THUNDER BEFORE RETURNING OUTSIDE.

A RECENT LIGHTNING SAFETY STUDY HAS SHOWN THAT 95 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE WHO WERE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING WHILE OUTDOORS HAD A NEARBY SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING OR VEHICLE NEARBY. REMEMBER...THERE IS NO SAFE PLACE OUTDOORS WHEN LIGHTNING IS OCCURRING. DO NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER PICNIC SHELTERS...DUGOUTS...PORCHES ...TREES…CARPORTS OR TENTS. THESE TYPES OF STRUCTURES ARE NOT SAFE WHEN LIGHTNING IS OCCURRING. ONCE INSIDE A SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING...STAY OFF CORDED TELEPHONES SINCE THE ELECTRICAL DISCHARGE CAN TRAVEL ALONG THE TELEPHONE LINES AND PRODUCE FATAL RESULTS. STAY AWAY FROM WATER...SUCH AS SHOWERS...TUBS AND SINKS. INDOOR SWIMMING POOLS ARE NOT SAFE WHEN LIGHTNING IS OCCURRING. IT IS ALSO RECOMMENDED THAT YOU UNPLUG SENSITIVE ELECTRONICS SUCH AS COMPUTERS AND TELEVISONS WHEN LIGHTNING IS EXPECTED TO OCCUR NEARBY.

THE BEST DEFENSE TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST A LIGHTNING STRIKE IS TO PLAN AHEAD AND AVOID BEING CAUGHT WHERE YOU MIGHT BE VULNERABLE. CHECK THE WEATHER FORECASTS PRIOR TO VENTURING OUT… ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE HEADING INTO THE MOUNTAINS. PLAN YOUR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR EARLY IN THE DAY BEFORE THUNDERSTORMS TYPICALLY DEVELOP. STAY TUNED TO NOAA ALL HAZARDS WEATHER RADIO AND CHECK THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECASTS AT:

National Weather Service Forecasts

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON LIGHTNING AND LIGHTNING SAFETY, YOU CAN CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING NOAA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LINK:

National Weather Service Lightning Safety

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT ALL SPORTS LEAGUES AND OTHER OUTDOOR GROUPS HAVE A LIGHTNING RESPONSE PLAN THAT IS UNDERSTOOD AND CONSISTENTLY APPLIED FOR THE SAFETY OF THE PARTICIPANTS. PART OF THE PLAN WOULD INCLUDE A DESIGNATED WEATHER WATCHER AT EACH OUTDOOR EVENT WITH THE AUTHORITY TO POSTPONE OR CANCEL THE EVENT DUE TO THE THREAT OF LIGHTNING.

REMEMBER...IF THUNDERSTORMS THREATEN…SEEK SHELTER IN A SUBSTANTIAL BUILDING OR IN AN ENCLOSED METAL ROOF VEHICLE.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON LIGHTNING SAFETY...PLEASE CHECK OUT THE WEB SITE WWW.LIGHTNINGSAFETY.NOAA.GOV. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT LIGHTNING IN COLORADO...PLEASE GO TO THE COLORADO LIGHTNING RESOURCE WEBPAGE AT:

Colorado Lightning Resource  (Courtesy Pueblo WFO)


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