Lightning in the Mountains
Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the thunderstorm. If you can see or hear it, you are close enough to be a target.

Follow the summer-in-the-mountain rule: "Up high by noon, down low by two" to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms the generally occur between 2 and 6 P.M.

Above Timberline:
  • Stay in your automobile.
  • Avoid the restrooms at the Parking area because the roofs are metal and attracts lightning.
  • Avoid high places. Get down off the top of the mountain and avoid ridges.
  • Do not touch dissimilar objects like rock and ground or tree and ground.
  • If you are hiking, remove all metal objects including backpacks, crampons, cameras and tripods. Crouch down with only your feet touching the ground. (See Lightning-Safety Position below.)
  • Stay away from lakes, streams and marshy wet soil, as water is a good conductor of electricity.
  • Remove all metal objects from your body, especially metal-rimed glasses.
Below Timberline:
  • Stay away from single trees. You are better off in a forest near shorter trees than taller trees.
  • Try to find a dry area, as water is a good conductor of electricity.
  • If you are hiking, remove all metal objects including backpacks, crampons, cameras and tripods. Crouch down with only your feet touching the ground.
Things to know about lightning:
  • If your skin and hair feel prickly or you see your friend's hair start to stand up, you are a prime target and the clouds and the ground are negotiating a path for the lightning bolt.
  • Lightning can strike before or after it has stopped raining.
  • How far away was that lightning? Count in seconds, you know how, one thousand one, one thousand two, etc. Each five seconds is one mile.
  • Danger from lightning may persist for more than 30 minutes after a storm has passed or after the last known lightning strike. This is often called "blue sky" lightning and is just as deadly.
Image (c)1999 Anubis Productions and Marian Hyuk Grossi
Lightning-Safety Position


Make yourself as small a target as possible. With your heels together, if lightning hits the ground, it goes through the closest foot, up to your heel and then transfers to the other foot and goes back to the ground again. If you don't put your feet together, lightning could go through your heart and kill you. Put your hands over your ears to protect them from thunder.

Avoid proximity to other people in your group. Put at least 15 feet between individuals. Should one be chosen, then the others can act as rescuers!

Lightning Safety for Kids


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