The Central and Western Wyoming Lightning Safety Toolkit and Backcountry Lightning Safety Campaign: A Wyoming Weather-Ready Nation Project (73)

Timothy W. Troutman, National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office, Riverton, Wyoming

Brandy L. Bourque, National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office

Kathleen B. O'Leary, National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office



Wyoming has historically ranked (since 1950) as one of the top five states per capita for fatalities and injuries due to lightning. The Riverton, Wyoming WFO outreach team is working to mitigate the loss of life and property due to lightning across western and central Wyoming. An intentional lightning safety campaign has targeted improved public awareness through growing partnerships with Weather-Ready Nation ambassadors, county emergency management agencies, as well as schools, local communities, and outdoor venues. At least 90 lightning safety toolkit locations have been recognized across 11 counties in western and central Wyoming, leading to over 100 lightning safety “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors” signs being installed locations across the region.

This safety campaign has included the pilot project of improving backcountry lightning safety signage. This pilot project focuses on lightning safety awareness for persons engaged in outdoor activities in areas where access to buildings and vehicles is limited. Local, state and federal agency partners are the focus of this preparedness effort. The backcountry lightning safety signs will be installed at hiking trailheads, campgrounds, and backcountry outdoor use permit stations on state and federal lands. Wyoming, though known for its small population, has vast amounts of public land, which is enjoyed by Wyoming residents as well as a sizeable visitor population who participate in numerous outdoor activities throughout the year. Lightning awareness and safety prevention is a critical component of outdoor education for backcountry users.