Vail Valley golfers beware: Colorado lightning is on its way
July 23, 2008 —
As the "Dog Days" of summer fetch hot temperatures in the Mid-West and Southeastern part of the country, our own Vail Valley begins to prepare for the monsoon season – not exactly the type of monsoons you relate to Southeast Asia, which are known to drop feet of rain in just days, but stormy afternoon weather none the less.
For golfers, the increase in thunderstorms means an increase in lightning. Colorado ranks as one of the top states for lightning strikes and deaths just behind Florida, and afternoon thunderstorms will be the norm for the remainder of the golf season until temperatures decrease in late September.
If you’re like me, the afternoon is the only time to play, but it’s also the time of day when thunderstorms have had time to develop and are ready to explode.
Here are a few tips to keep you out of harm’s way.
1) Ask the staff of the course you are playing what their lightning policy is and if they have a detection system. Some will require you to seek shelter if lightning is near, some will allow you to play at your own risk.
2) If you see lightning and you’re on the golf course, it's time to seek shelter. Lightning can strike from as far as 50 miles away, meaning if it’s close enough to see its close enough to kill.
3) Make a mental note of where the lightning shelters are located on the course as you play. Mountain thunderstorms can move in quickly, so it’s a good idea to have a route to a shelter or the clubhouse.
4) Finally, if you feel the least bit uncomfortable with the weather situation, and your group is willing to take the risk, don't be afraid to stand your ground. Tell your friends there is always another day to play golf, testing God's will with a metal club in your hand can spell disaster, besides, most of the storms that roll through will be gone within the hour, just stock up on beer and wait it out.
Also, the National Weather Service has an experimental "lightning potential index" that will give readers an idea of the threat of lightning for a 36 hour period, check it out at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/gjt/?n=lightningpotentialindex.
Keep it in the short grass.
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