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Emergency Management

Posted on: July 12, 2023

Thunderstorm and Lightning Safety

Wyoming Lightning Storm courtesy of the National Weather Service, Riverton Office

Teton County Emergency Management reminds you to be alert for signs of severe weather while you are enjoying your time outdoors this summer. Thunderstorms are most common during the summer months and can produce numerous hazards including large hail, high winds, lightning, and heavy rain. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Data, lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities in the United States and sixty-four percent of lightning fatalities result from outdoor recreation.

National Weather Service lightning fatality activities infographic

Before you head out on an adventure, check the forecast and pack appropriate gear. Understanding some terminology is helpful here: a severe thunderstorm watch means be prepared - severe thunderstorms are possible. A severe thunderstorm warning means take action - severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar and there is imminent danger to life or property. If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity.

If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Remember this simple phrase: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! You should suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard. Below are additional protective actions.

  • As soon as possible, get inside a modern, enclosed building. If that is not possible, take shelter in a metal-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.
  • If you are not near a building or a vehicle:
    1. Stay away from tall trees and do not stand near tree roots. 
    2. If you are on a ridge or peak, get down if possible.
    3. Immediately get out of and away from ponds, lakes, and other bodies of water.
    4. Stay away from objects that conduct electricity, like barbed wire fences and power lines.
    5. Get to the safest place you can, then crouch down on the balls of your feet and cover your ears with your hands.

There is much more to know about thunderstorm and lightning safety. For additional information, visit:

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