A rare lightning strike killed a Colorado rancher and his 34 cows

A rancher and 34 of his cows were tragically killed in Colorado when a lightning strike hit Jackson County on Saturday. This unfortunate incident adds to the growing death toll caused by the devastating storms that have been sweeping across the US during the Memorial Day weekend.

On the evening of “branding day,” a community event where locals come together to brand cattle, tragedy struck in Rand, a small town located approximately 120 miles northwest of Denver. Mike Morgan, a 51-year-old rancher, lost his life when he was struck by lightning on his property. The incident occurred as he was feeding hay to the cattle, causing around 100 cows to be knocked off their feet. The emergency services were alerted of the incident through a 911 call made around 2 am MT.

According to the coroner, George Crocket, all 32 cattle remained motionless after the incident. He stated, “As far as I can determine, it struck the trailer, where the cattle were gathered, affecting all of them.”

The National Weather Service issued a warning about an approaching storm moving across the Front Range Urban Corridor, advising individuals to seek shelter upon hearing thunder. Tragically, Morgan lost her life amidst a series of severe weather events that struck the central US over Memorial Day weekend, claiming the lives of at least 21 others.

Lightning strikes resulting in fatalities are fortunately rare, despite the tragedy they bring. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are approximately 50 lightning-related deaths each year. The odds of being struck by lightning are estimated to be one in a million, and remarkably, 90 percent of those affected manage to survive.

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Working outdoors can increase your vulnerability to lightning strikes. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been a total of 444 recorded deaths caused by lightning strikes in the US from 2006 to 2021, with the highest occurrence happening during the summer months.

Florida, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have recorded the highest number of lightning-related fatalities and injuries.

Florida has earned the title of the “lightning capital” of the US due to the occurrence of over 2,000 lightning-related injuries in the past 50 years.

Since 2006, only five states and territories have reported zero deaths: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Washington, and the US Virgin Islands.

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