Lightning strikes man during hail storm at Woods Canyon Lake

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

WOODS CANYON LAKE, Ariz. -- A Queen Creek man is recovering after being struck by lightning during a hail storm at Woods Canyon Lake. It happened Sunday afternoon.

According to the Forest Lakes Fire Department, the man and his family were spending the day at the lake.

When a hail storm rolled through, the man, who is in his 30s, reportedly used a metal camp chair to shield himself from the hail. A lightning bolt hit him while he was heading for cover.

Crews from the Woods Canyon Fire Department responded. Paramedics said the man had an entry wound on his shoulder and exit wounds on both feet. Because of the weather, the man was taken by ground ambulance to Payson Regional Hospital rather than air-lifted to Phoenix.

At last check, the man, whose name has not been released, was in serious condition.

Woods Canyon Lake, which is about 30 miles east of Payson, is a little less than three hours northeast of Queen Creek.

What are the odds?

According to the National Lightning Safety Institute in Louisville, Colorado, there were 17 lightning deaths in Arizona between 1990 and 2003. The state ranked No. 15 in the country for lightning deaths. Florida was No. 1 with 126 reported lightning deaths.

"Lightning is a major cause of storm-related deaths in the U.S.," reads the National Weather Service's lightning safety Web page.

According to NWS Storm Data, the U.S. has averaged 51 reported lightning fatalities between 1984 and 2013.

"Only about 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90 percent with various degrees of disability," according to the website.

The odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime, based on a life-expectancy of 80 years, is 1 in 12,000.

The NWS estimates that 10 people are affected for every one person who is struck by lightning. That means the odds of your being affected by somebody who was struck by lightning is 1 in 1,200.

The NWS says the best thing you can do if you find yourself outside during a storm is to seek shelter immediately.

"If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you," according to the NWS.

The best shelters are substantial buildings with electricity or plumbing or, in a pinch, an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.

The NWS suggests you stay inside for at least 30 minutes after the last time you hear thunder.