Lightning’s deadly reach: Colorado ranked third in the U.S. for most fatal strikes

May 30, 2024, 2:07 PM | Updated: 2:16 pm

Lightning over Denver (Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

(Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Lightning’s deadly reach: Colorado ranked third in the U.S. for most fatal strikes.

Colorado experiences high lightning fatalities including a recent incident where lightning killed a Jackson County rancher and more than 30 of his cattle, highlights the danger we all face.

Since 1980, 101 people have been killed and 488 injured by lightning in Colorado, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Lightning's deadly reach: Colorado ranked third in the U.S. for most fatal strikes

Lightning near Coors Field in Denver. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

In an average year, about a half-million lightning flashes hit the ground in Colorado. Between 2009 and 2018, Colorado ranked 19th in the U.S. for the number of ground lightning strikes, according to the NWS.

The CDC offers the following safety guidelines:

  • Go inside if you hear thunder or see lightning.
  • Avoid water during thunderstorms. Don’t bathe, shower or wash dishes. Lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing.
  • Don’t touch electronic equipment or any metal wires or bars. Don’t use anything connected to an electrical outlet such as computers, laptops, game systems, washers, dryers or stoves.
  • Stay away from window, doors, porches and concrete.
  • If you’re outside, be aware of the forecast before heading out. Stay away from open spaces like golf courses, parks and playgrounds, and avoid open vehicles such as convertibles, motorcycles and golf carts.
  • Open outdoor structures like picnic shelters, tents, gazebos and baseball dugouts don’t provide protection from lightning.
  • If you’re caught outside with no safe shelter, get off elevated areas like hills and mountain ridges. Crouch down in a ball-like position with your  head tucked and hands over your ears. Never shelter under a tree or lie flat on the ground. Get away from bodies of water.
  • Don’t leave your pet outdoors during a thunderstorm.


According to the National Lightning Safety Council, only Florida and Texas lead Colorado in lightning strike fatalities between 2006 and 2023,

Credit: National Lightning Safety Council

Read more from our partners at 9News here.


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Lightning’s deadly reach: Colorado ranked third in the U.S. for most fatal strikes