Summer Weather:
Convection Information & Safety


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One of the most dangerous and unpredictable hazards of thunderstorms is lightning.
On a national annual average basis, lightning kills more people than all tornadoes and hurricanes combined, although it causes less property damage. 
In the United States, an average of 62 people are killed each year by lightning.  That's more than the annual number of people killed by tornadoes or hurricanes.  Many more are struck but survive.  However, they often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and an inability to sit for long.

Over a 36 year period (1959-1994), Wyoming recorded 21 deaths and 83 injuries resulting from lightning.  These numbers ranked well behind Florida which topped all states with 345 deaths and 1,178 injuries over the same period.  However, if these statistics are weighted to account for state population the danger of lightning in Wyoming becomes readily apparent.  The Cowboy State ranks #2 behind only New Mexico in number of deaths per million people per year with an average of 1.47.  The Wyoming average of 5.74 injuries per million people per year ranks #1 for the entire U.S.  Since 1995, and additional six deaths and 31 injuries have occurred from lightning.  All six of these deaths occurred in the mountains of Wyoming - namely the Teton, Wind River, Snowy, and Medicine Bow Ranges.

Lightning striking grain silos 

Photo Courtesy of John Ogren

When Thunder Roars,

Go Indoors!

The casualty rate among those who participate in sports or outdoor recreational activities is climbing. Lightning is the most frequent weather hazard impacting athletics events. Recreation programs should implement a lightning safety program at every facility.

Baseball Player Cartoon


Lightning near Pinedale, Wyoming - Summer 2004

Lightning near Pinedale, Wyoming - Summer 2004
Photo Courtesy of David Bell

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