Lightning poses a big danger for Coloradans

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Lightning is the number one cause of death by weather here in Colorado and already in 2014 two people have been killed and 12 have been injured.

There are several misconceptions about lightning and one big one is that your odds of being struck by it are greater than your chances of winning the lottery.

You have a one in 12,000 chance of being hit by lightning and only a one in 259 Million shot at winning the lottery.

This time of year experts at the National Weather Service say the danger increases due to the South West Desert Monsoon that increases moisture and thunderstorm activity from now until August.

“You could become injured or even a fatality with lightning striking just nearby you, you don't have to experience a direct hit. That's fairly common in the mountains," said Paul Frisbie with the Grand Junction National Weather Service.

The current from lightning can travel through the ground and that's why meteorologists say not to stand under a tree or use electronics during a thunderstorm.

The saying 'when thunder roars go indoors' is important to know because by the time you hear thunder the associated lightning may only be six to 10 miles away.

"Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye to the sky if we have thunderstorms in the forecast," said Frisbie.

And for Kathy Leech, a Colorado native, knowing the weather forecast has become a routine for whenever she heads outdoors after having her own close call with lightning.

"[I was] hiking in the mountains and the thunderstorm rolled in really fast and it was cracking and popping all around us and it was just terrifying," said Leech.

Many people are lucky to escape a close call like that; for some, surviving a lightning strike may be the easy part.

The lifetime of chronic problems that may follows is a different story.

Nerve damage, muscle twitches, brain damage, scars where the strike entered and exited the body and burns can all be associated with being a lightning strike survivor.


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