August 12 Lightning, Pagosa Springs, CO

by John Farley

Just before sunset, thunderstorms developed in the Pagosa Springs, Colorado area and put on a rather spectacular light show. Here are a few pictures, taken in the Pagosa Lakes area, as the storms moved in and a little later as they continued east of the area after sunset.

Two shots looking north/northeast across Village Lake:

Notice the fishermen trying for a Darwin Award in the boat on the lake. By this time, I was photographing from inside the car due to the lightning danger, and a minute or two before this picture was taken, a bolt had hit within a quarter of a mile. This one was a little over a mile away. They continued to fish until they were hit with drenching rain a few minutes after I took this. They are lucky that is all that hit them. This illustrates one reason why fishing is the most frequent activity in which people are struck by lightning.

Two shots after dark, looking southeast across Pinon Lake:

The spot to the left of the bolt hitting the mountain (or behind it) is not a flaw in the picture - it is a bird or bat that was flying around above the lake. Incidentally, this mountain is a good 20 miles from the location where I took the picture.

The monsoon has been quite active this year across New Mexico and Colorado. Although it has caused some flooding problems, particularly in burn-scar areas, it has overall been very beneficial in reducing fire danger and for the water supply. And for lightning photography!

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