Kremmling Colorado Lightning Case of 19 June 2004
19 Golfers struck by Lightning while participating in the Kremmling Cliff Classic Golf Tournament

Stephen Hodanish
NWS Pueblo CO


0n 19 June 2004, nineteen golfers were struck by lightning near the town of Kremmling, Colorado. They were participating in the Kremmling Cliff Classic Golf Tournament which was located on a bluff a mile or two north of town. This "golf tournament" consisted of hitting golfballs off the edge of a cliff at targets in the valley below. Of the 19 golfers who were affected by the flashes, 4 were taken via helicopter to a hospital in Denver. Reports from the Grand County dispatch center indicated the first 911 call regarding this lightning incident was received at 2:46 pm MDT (2046 UTC). Eyewitnesses and victims to the event indicated 2 flashes actually hit the bluff where the 19 golfers were injured. 

Below are 12 plots showing the location of cloud to ground lightning over a 400 square mile area (20 mi x 20 mi) centered over Kremmling, Colorado. The first 11 plots shows the lightning activity which occurred over the region during a 1 minute time period between 2:39 pm MDT (2039 UTC) to 2:49 pm MDT (2049 UTC). The last plot is a loop of the 1 minute lightning and composite radar data between
214 pm MDT (2014 UTC) and 254 pm MDT (2054 UTC). Composite radar data corresponding to the time of the lightning activity is also shown. The location of lightning flashes on each plot are shown with a small white dash "-". The total number of lightning flashes for each plot are shown in the upper left hand side of each image. The radar data is from National Weather Service KFTG Doppler Radar which is located near the Denver International Airport (98 miles east-southeast of Kremmling). The lightning data is from National Lightning Detection Network operated by Vaisala. The images below were generated from the National Weather Service AWIPS system displayed on  the Warning Environment Simulator (WES). Time on the plots is given in UTC. Subtract 6 hours to get local time (MDT); i.e., 2000 UTC = 1400 local = 2:00 pm MDT.

The first two images (figs 1 and 2) show a weak convective rain shower over the Kremmling area. However, no lightning occurred during this two minute time period (2:41 and 2:42 pm; 2041 and 2042 UTC). Figure 3 (2:43 pm; 2043 UTC) shows a lightning flash occurring about ~1 mile east-southeast of Kremmling. No lightning occurred during the 1 minute time period ending at 2:44 pm (2044 UTC; fig 4). Figure 5 shows a sigle lighting flash occurring about 2-3 miles east-northeast of Kremmling. Figure 6 indicated 3 lighting flashes occurred during this one minute time period ending at 2:46 pm (2046 UTC). It is believed the flash that occurred just north of Kremmling is the flash that caused the 19 injuries to the golfers.

Figures 7 through 10 indicated one flash of lightning occurred in each of these figures just north of Kremmling. It is likely one of these flashes was the "second" flash that hit the cliffs.

No lightning occurred during the one minute time period ending at 2:50 pm (2050 UTC; Fig 11).

Figure 12 shows a loop of lightning and radar data over the Kremmling area between 214 pm MDT (2014 UTC) and 254 pm MDT (2054 UTC).

Reports from the media indicated the participants, who had gone to their vehicles during the storm, were struck as they returned to the bluff thinking the lightning threat had ended.

Lightning safety specialists recommend that if you see lightning or hear thunder, you should seek shelter in a substantial building or a metal topped vehicle. You should not return outdoors until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. For extensive lightning safety information, please visit the NOAA Lightning Safety page.

Return to the Colorado Lightning Resource Page.
Return to the Lightning Casualty Case Studies section of the Colorado Lightning Resource Page.




Figure 1. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2040 UTC (2:40 pm MDT). Distance scale (miles) is in lower left of image. Rainfall intensity scale (dBz) is in upper left of image.



Figure 2. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2041 UTC (2:41 pm MDT).



Figure 3. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2042 UTC (2:42 pm MDT).



Figure 4. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2043 UTC (243 pm MDT).



Figure 5. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2044 UTC (2:44 pm MDT).



Figure 6. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2045 UTC (2:45 pm MDT).



Figure 7. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2046 UTC (246 pm MDT).



Figure 8. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2047 UTC (2:47 pm MDT).



Figure 9. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2048 UTC (2:48 pm MDT).



Figure 10. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2049 UTC (249 pm MDT).



Figure 11. Radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data ending at 2050 UTC (250 pm MDT).





Figure 12. Loop of radar reflectivity data and 1 minute cloud to ground lightning data between 2014 UTC (214 pm MDT) and 2054 UTC (254 pm MDT).


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