“I leaned back on the rock and immediately got shocked, and the couple next to us stepped on a rock and it sounded like an electric wire fell. It was a huge, huge noise,” she said. It happened really quick. I’m so grateful. I don’t think it hit me until after I was down that mountain.We almost got struck by lightning.”
Weather unpredictability is key component of summer hiking in the Centennial State and its especially important to consider when traveling through high country with few options for cover during an electrical storm:
“Storms don’t wear watches. They don’t keep track of time. Sometimes they can come in earlier and sometimes later.” Lloyd Athearn from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative
While it’s a general rule to be off the summit by noon, storms can roll in at a moment’s notice, so it’s important to know what to do during severe weather.
“You want to get yourself down low — you want to be lower than other things around you. The challenge is, if you’re up high on top of a mountain, there’s rocks, there’s tundra, but nothing big. So, you want to make yourself lower than other things so that you’re less approachable for lightning.“
Hikers are encouraged to always check summit forecasts on the National Weather Service or Open Summit. According to the latest data from the NWS, there have been 14 lightning deaths from 2008 to 2017 in Colorado. Think ahead, have a plan, and be safe out there folks.