A thunderstorm rolled through the Grand Canyon at sunset Tuesday and created a big photo opportunity and even bigger safety threat.
A “gorgeous” photo captured the national park’s beauty and danger at the same time. A massive lightning bolt quickly struck a peak of the canyon as it was starting to get dark, the photo shows.
“Outside when a thunderstorm moves in?” Grand Canyon rangers said on Facebook. “Observe the direction of storm movement, listen for thunder, watch for lightning and If the sound of thunder follows a lightning flash in 30 seconds or less, seek shelter immediately.”
A week before the photo was taken, two hikers were found unconscious from a lightning strike, and at least two others were injured. The 30-year-old man and 28-year-old woman were hiking during a monsoon storm.
“This lightning strike is a reminder that monsoon season brings not only rain, but dangerous and potentially life-threatening lightning during thunderstorms,” park officials said in a July 21 news release about the hikers injured. “Serious injuries and fatalities have occurred at Grand Canyon National Park as a result of lightning strikes.”
Lightning strikes the national park an average of 25,000 times each year, according to the National Park Service. It can strike two points 10 miles apart at the same time.
Hikers should always prepare a plan in case a storm comes and check the forecast before getting on a trail, according to the National Park Service.
Park officials offer these tips:
Be aware of where the nearest safe structure or vehicle is at all times.
Learn where emergency phones are on trails.
Listen for thunder and watch for lightning.
Take cover if a storm is approaching.
If “your hair stands on end,” a lighting strike is looming. Move away from the canyon edge.
If there’s no shelter around, spread out from others and look for lower ground.
Crouch on the balls of your feet with your heels touching and your head down.