Thunderstorms are a fact of life in New Mexico but the dangers of lightning have not received the recognition of the dangers of flooding associated with Monsoon Season.
Unfortunately, there have been at least two “close” calls related to lightning in Albuquerque and Santa Fe this month. Nationwide, there have been 11 lightning fatalities this year, including a 54-year-old male recently, who was walking near a reservoir in Navajo County in Arizona.
Two separate lightning strikes in Colorado July 18 caused serious injuries. In Fort Collins, Colo., nine farm workers were struck by lightning while out in the fields. The Fire Protection District Chief of Wellington, Gary Green, said they were out in the field around 4 p.m. during a “crazy lightning storm” that moved through the area. Two people were critically injured.
Only a few hours earlier, a woman who was hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park was also struck by lightning. See http://www.accuweather.com/en/
The National Weather Service has a voluntary recognition program for local counties and communities to create an awareness of the dangers of lightning at their outdoor recreational venues and provide the community with safety measures to protect themselves from the dangers of lightning. This campaign encourages the public to take action when they hear thunder, rather than waiting for lightning or rain. While this focuses on the community level, there is a companion program especially for large venues.