Lightning Safety Awareness Week

June 22-28 is Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Summer is a great time to be outdoors in Montana, but it also comes with the risk of severe weather, including lightning.  According to the National Weather Service, Montana averages more than 330,000 cloud to ground strikes every year.  Be prepared and informed before you get caught in the middle of a thunderstorm.

Here are some safety tips for you and your family:

  • Check www.weather.gov before heading outside.  Plan accordingly if you see severe weather watches or warnings in your area.
  • If you hear thunder or see a bolt of lightning, head inside a building or enclosed car and wait until 30 minutes have passed since the last sound of thunder.
  • If you are inside, avoid plumbing, unplug computers and electrical equipment, and stay away from windows and concrete walls.

If you are outside with no safe shelter, follow these tips:

  • Avoid hilltops or elevated areas.
  • Don’t shelter yourself underneath a tree.  Better to get wet than struck.
  • Avoid cliffs and rocky overhangs.
  • Get out of rivers, lakes or other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from wire fences, power lines and windmills.
  • Tents don’t offer protection from lightning, but as you are setting up camp, consider your tent location in relation to trees, hilltops, etc.

Check out some of these additional resources and be safe this summer:

NOLS Backcountry Lightning Safety Guidlines

National Weather Service Lightning Safety

Myths and Facts

Lightning Strike Map

Regional NWS offices in Montana:

Glasgow

Billings

Great Falls

Missoula

Line Break