Monday 27 May 2024

Rancher and 34 Cattle killed by lightning in Colorado.

A rancher and 34 Cattle have been killed by a lightning strike in Jackson County, Colorado. Mike Morgan (51) was unloading bales of hay from a trailer, when the vehicle was hit by the lightning bolt, at about 2.00 pm local time on Saturday 25 May 2024. The incident was witnessed by Morgan's wife and father-in-law, who reported that the strike knocked over about a hundred Cattle that were surrounding the trailer at the time of the incident, the majority of these got back up almost immediately, but 34 were found to have died, along with Mr Morgan.

Cattle killed by a lightning strike in Jackson County, Colorado, on 25 May 2024. Shannon Lukens/Denver Visitor.

The Earth's surface is struck by lightning about 40 million times each year, but it is extremely rare for people to be hit. The average Human has a roughly one in 15 000 chance of being hit by lightning during their lifetime, with 90% of those who are hit surviving.

Thunderstorms occur when warm, moist bodies of air encounter cooler, drier air packages. The warm air rises over the cooler air until it rises above its dew point (the point where it cools too far to retain its water content as vapor), and the water precipitates out, falling as rain, sleet, or hail.

Warm moist air passing over the surface of the Earth acts as an electrical generator, creating a negative charge in the cloud tops and a positive charge at the ground (or occasionally in a second cloud layer). The atmosphere acts as an electrical insulator, allowing this potential to build up, until water begins to precipitate out. This allows a channel of ionized air to form, carrying a current between the clouds and the ground, which we perceive as lightning.

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