Why watch for fires when a flash flood watch is in effect? The type of storm systems we have at this time of year are usually scattered and potentially intense. You might get an inch of rain in a half hour while down the road gets nothing. There are areas around the County that have not seen any significant rain in months, even with these recent storms. With the intensity of summer thunderstorms, lighting is a big concern. It often strikes on the outskirts of the storms where ground may be dry. Fires can start many days after a strike. We've seen fires smolder in roots for up to 14 days before emerging on a hot day! Residents in the South half of La Plata County are all too familiar with lightning fires.
So with more storms comes more lightning; watch for fire.
Want to know more about lightning? Colorado Lightning Safety
Here are some quick tips:
- In the mountains lighting can strike anywhere and can strike before you see clouds. Watch weather forecasting and plan your trip around when storms build. Don't wait till you see the thunderheads build to get off the peaks.
- Don't hide under a tree as shelter from the rain. Do bring gear to manage the elements and get lower when lightning is coming.
- If you are going into the mountains for extended periods, get a small weather radio. Many family radios have weather radio receivers. You won't get an alert like in tornado country so listen to the recording several times throughout the day to get updated info.
- Lightning travels around the outside surface of things (mostly). If you are in a car, close the windows and keep inside. If you are in a structure stay away from anything that can conduct lightning like faucets, hanging lamps, anything plugged in.
- If you are stuck outside move to lower ground. If you feel the static charge of a coming strike, get away from tall or metal things and squat onto your toes. A clump of trees is likely safer than a single tree.
These pictures are from a sudden intense deluge over a couple of square acres just a few Septembers ago. Don't be caught off guard!