Be Lightning Prepared
Summertime in the Colorado Mountains requires attention skyward in the summer months. The snow finally melts from the highest peaks about the same time lightning and thunder make a daily presence.
The adage, off the highest peaks by noon has real meaning.
What you need and should know.
Lightning can and will do anything. It is unpredictable and uncontrollable.
Light travels 186,000-miles per second whereas sound travels 700 miles per hour. That means to determine the distance between flash and rumble you need to count. Every five seconds is approximately one mile. If a storm is traveling 20 to 25 mph, it will take approximately six minutes to be in striking distance travel three miles (because you counted to 15 between the flash and boom).
Practices to live by.
• Don’t be the highest object around and stay away from the highest object – mountain summits, ridges or cliff tops, near the tallest tree or pole, or the largest and tallest object in a meadow, field or open area
• Get off water or away from water – including ditches, gullies, streams, ponds and lakes
• Don’t sit under overhangs or in shallow caves
What to do if you are not where you should be.
• Try to get below treeline and off the summit
• Find a low spot among small trees
• Sit on your pack or pad with your knees flexed and your arms hugging your knees
• Keep your feet together to minimize the ground effect of a nearby strike
Prevention and preparation are the key elements. Be aware and keep an eye towards the sky.