Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published July 14, 2014 at 1:29 PM | Page modified July 16, 2014 at 4:11 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments
  • Print

Lightning safety tips for mountain visitors

Lightning strikes have killed two tourists and injured others in recent days in Rocky Mountain National Park. The strikes happened along a popular road that is above treeline and is prone to rapidly-developing early afternoon summer thunderstorms. Here are some precautions mountain visitors should take to stay safe:


advertising

DENVER —

Lightning strikes have killed two tourists and injured others in recent days in Rocky Mountain National Park. The strikes happened along a popular road that is above treeline and is prone to rapidly-developing early afternoon summer thunderstorms. Here are some precautions mountain visitors should take to stay safe:

CHECK THE WEATHER: According to the park, a bright summer day can turn stormy within minutes, with lightning, high winds and even snow. In the Rocky Mountains, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon. Elsewhere, ask rangers or check the weather service to learn about the weather patterns of the area you are visiting.

GET OUT EARLY: If hiking, start your hike early in the day -- and plan to be down the mountain by noon. Summer thunderstorms can form quickly anytime in the afternoon. Get below treeline or to safe shelter before a storm strikes.

STAY ALERT: If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. If you see lightning in the distance, it's close enough to strike you. And at altitude, if skies look threatening, a thunderstorm can develop immediately overhead. A significant lightning threat generally extends up to 10 miles from the base of a thunderstorm cloud. And on rarer occasions, bolts can strike up to 15 miles from a thunderstorm.

ABOVE TREELINE: Get inside your vehicle immediately, do not lean against the doors, and wait at least 30 minutes after a storm passes overhead. If you are away from a vehicle, get away from summits, isolated trees and rocks. Find shelter but avoid small cave entrances and rock overhangs. They won't protect you. Crouch down on your heels.

BELOW TREELINE: If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees. Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects.

WHAT'S SAFE SHELTER: Tents, trees, small caves and picnic shelters are not safe. A vehicle or a substantive, enclosed building are. Stay away from water and any metal.

ESSENTIALS: Carry these: Raingear, map and compass, flashlight or headlamp, sunglasses and sunscreen, matches or other fire starter, candles, extra food and water, extra layers of clothing, pocketknife, and a first aid kit.

___

For more information:

National Weather Service: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/index.htm

Rocky Mountain National Park: http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/yoursafety.htm



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►