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Weather Service Warns Of Lightning Dangers

NOAA

This week, Wyoming marks Lightning Awareness Week; calling attention to what is probably the most deadly weather occurrence in the state, and certainly in this part of the state.  National Weather Service Severe Weather Warning Coordination Meteorologist Chris Jones says with the mountains here and the predominance of outdoor recreation, special attention needs to be paid when there are thunderstorms in the area.  Jones advises, “When you don’t have shelter available, whether it be an enclosed building [which] is preferable, but your vehicle can substitute when that is the only thing available.”  Without those shelters, Jones says recreationists should seek lower ground, spreading out the group that is traveling together to at least 20 to 50 feet apart, and while it is preferable to get below tree-line, people should not stand next to trees. New technology allows people on golf courses or other developed outdoor recreation sites to be warned of the threat of lightning that is approaching.  However, Jones says the simple principle that every five seconds between a lightning flash and the thunder that follows represents one mile away that the lightning occurred.  However, in the mountains, there can be echoes that confuse such calculations, and sometimes wind can prevent it to be heard clearly.  Jones points out that thunderstorm activity is most common in the afternoon hours, usually triggering first over the mountains.  For that reason, he recommends planning outdoor activities to begin early in the morning so that it can be concluded before the afternoon showers roll in.

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