A 37-year-old woman was killed by lightning Sunday – the first lightning-related death of the year nationwide, according to the National Weather Service.
The woman was horseback riding in Douglas County, Colo. with two other people, when severe weather rolled in on either side of them, Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy Jason Blanchard told Fox 31 Denver.
The lightning strike also killed the woman’s horse and injured a 15-year-old who was riding with the woman. A third woman was not hurt.
Between 2006 and 2015, Florida had the highest number of lightning fatalities.
Last year, Florida had nine lightning deaths, more than double the next highest, which was four in Louisiana.
John Jensenius, a lightning expert with the NWS, said this is the third time in the past decade that the first lightning death occurred after May 1.
It’s happened later than May 1 in 2011 and 2014 when the first lightning death didn’t occur until May 23 and May 9.
Florida is the thunderstorm capital of the U.S., according to the Florida Climate Center. In a slice of the state that includes Palm Beach County, an average of 80 days per year include thunderstorm activity.
It’s important to know myth from fact when it comes to lightning strikes, such as lightning is not attracted to metal.
• A car with a metal roof is good shelter from lightning, but not because of the rubber tires. If lightning strikes the car, it will be conducted by the metal around and into the ground. A convertible does not offer the same protection.
• Lightning can strike from 10 miles away, meaning sunny skies when a storm is imminent are still dangerous.
• Lightning tends to strike the tallest object in an area, so trees are not safe places to seek shelter.
• A person injured by lightning is not electrified. Victims typically die of cardiac arrest. People who can administer CPR will not be electrocuted if they do so.