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Don Day

No Way — Outside of Time And Traveling Whack-A-Mole — To Escape the Smoky Air in Wyoming

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Like it or not, parts of Wyoming and other places in the west are stuck with smoky air for awhile because of the wildfires in California and the Pacific Northwest.

And that can be problematic for everyone but especially for people who already have breathing issues.

That’s why when we saw a television station in Spokane recommend Cody and Rock Springs as locations in Wyoming to escape the bad air, we wondered what was so special about these locations. Could they be home to smoke-free unicorns?

Sadly, there are no unicorns. The respite from the smoke could all be temporary.

Wyoming meteorologist Don Day said those two locations might be have good air quality presently, that could easily change.

“It is a moving target, the whole Cody/Rock Springs thing was at a moment in time, the smoke plumes come and go, so what is good one day may be bad the next,” Day told Cowboy State Daily.

“There are no good or worst spots,” he said.  “It all depends on the day.”

Day recommended visiting this website to check on the conditions in case you wanted to travel to get away from it.

If that is your strategy, be prepared to play a game of traveling whack-a-mole. You might be in a good location for six hours, only for weather patterns to shift and smoke to roll-in.

If you can suck it up for a couple more days, he says it will get better.

“I expect the smoke through Thursday, it starts to thin out Friday and into the weekend but may not completely move out,” Day said.

He said much-needed rain is headed for Washington and Oregon in the next few days which will certainly help. But most locations in California are still going to be dry.

“California fires will only get rain in the far north,” he said.  “Central and southern California fires will be the bigger smoke producers this weekend and next week.”

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Don Day: Good Weather Coming Up But Not Until the Weekend

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We’re already looking ahead and wondering when this summer winter storm is going to pass.

Wyoming’s weatherman Don Day says the weekend is going to be great. But until then, we have a big storm to work around.

“When you look out your window in many areas here in the Rockies and the High Plains, the storm is going to impact the region through Friday. This is a doozy of a storm system folks for this early in the season,” Day said in his morning forecast.

Day said the storm doesn’t mean winter has arrived. This is just an “interruption,” he said.

“We’ve got nice fall weather coming but certainly it is fall now. This storm system is basically readjusting the jet stream and we’re still going to have some warm dry days coming up in September and October.”

Travel conditions will improve after early Wednesday, Day said. 

And, although it may not seem that way, there is some good news that’s coming out of this moisture. It’s killing the fire season and will help with the drought.

“This is a godsend for the fires across the area,” Day said. “This is going to just do wonders with the fire situation. Especially the bad fire in the Front Range, the mountains west of Fort Collins. Look at all of that good moisture there.”

Wyoming will bounce back from this storm system but it’s going to take some time, Day said.

“Basically it’s going to stay very cool through Friday and we’ll see rain on the plains and snow showers in the high country. But by Saturday afternoon, we’ve got a nice high pressure Ridge returning to the region. It’s not a hot one.”


The following is a computer-generated transcript of the Don Day daily forecast. For best results, watch the video embedded above.

It’s Tuesday, September 8 2020, although you’d swear it’s November or December 8 2020. When you look at your window in many areas here in the Rockies and the High Plains, the storm is going to impact the region through Friday. 

Folks, a lot of the biggest impacts are certainly coming through the next 24 hours. This is a doozy of a storm system folks for this early in the season. We’ll have travel impacts into early Wednesday, after early Wednesday. I think travel conditions will improve although it’s going to be slow going still over the higher elevations of it and this the mountain passes of the region. 

Now this is a godsend for the fires that fire situation in Colorado, the Cameron Peak fire area blowing up over the weekend, causing widespread smoke across the Front Range, a huge increase in acreage that burned up but this is going to be a godsend the storm will for that fire and other fires burning in the West. And also the area’s most impacted by the real severe drought conditions this summer. 

We’ll get good moisture out of the storm system. Now by the weekend, we’re right back to nice September weather again. This doesn’t mean we’re into winter folks, it’s an interruption. We’ve got nice fall weather coming but certainly it is fall now, after the storm system is basically readjusting the jetstream and we’re likely … still gonna have some real warm dry days coming up in September, October, we’ll have other fronts as well. But good weather will return by the weekend. 

This is where we are today the big ridge in the Gulf of Alaska then the deep trough cutting into the United States. The upper level low over Utah is now bringing moisture into the region on top of the Arctic boundary that came into the region and is all away is even pushed west of the Continental Divide. So this is where we get overriding southwest winds over the cold air moisture getting lifted over the cold air. Great way to make it snow. The trajectory of the air follow the wind barbs …

Look how far … you wonder why it’s so cold because of the trajectory The air is coming all the way up basically from near the Arctic Circle folks. You wonder how things could change so quickly? Well over the weekend we had record heat come up from the deserts. And now we’ve actually completely done a 180 and bring it in from the Arctic. 

This is our temperature relative to normal as of this morning. Look at the extent of this cold plunge You know, this cold plunge is going to go east and will affect other areas of the Corn Belt Midwest just not the Rockies and high plains but that is one impressive cold blast. This is the precipitation that will fall through the next three or four days. 

Most of the heavier precipitation now is falling up in northern Wyoming and southern Montana but now it’s central and southern Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, the Western and high planes that are going to get a goodly amount of moisture, widespread moisture, the best we’ve seen in months in some areas, and you can see the yellow here the heavier precipitation in the mountains of Colorado, up into Wyoming. 

This is going to just do wonders with the fire situation. Especially the bad fire in the Front Range, the mountains west of Fort Collins. 

Look at all of that good moisture there. This is what temperatures are going to be like relative to average by tomorrow afternoon Denver 48 degrees below normal for temperatures by noon on Wednesday. That is one heck of a cold wave for this time of year. Look at this minus 30 degrees relative to normal going all the way through Amarillo and headed towards El Paso. Now let’s see what happens with the pattern. 

This is for tomorrow morning. The upper level low barely moves. It just parks itself right along the Colorado-Utah line. High pressure stays in the Gulf of Alaska and the storm is gonna basically linger keeping us cold and wet well into the day on Wednesday. By Friday, look at that, it barely moves. 

This is today. Two days later. It’s in East Central Wyoming. Now notice it’s not as strong. So what it will do is keep a cool moist, unstable airmass overhead. So basically it’s going to stay very cool through Friday and Wednesday through Friday will bring occasional showers of rain on the plains and snow showers to the high country, the region. 

But by Saturday afternoon, we’ve got a nice high pressure ridge returning to the region. It’s not a hot one. But what it will do is bring a return of nice looking, in fact, great looking September weather by the weekend that will probably stretch into all the next week and this is by next Thursday and Friday. 

A more zonal west to east flow goes across the country, so it’ll warm up. Now it won’t be terribly hot except here in California. The rest of the nation. This is really looking like a fall pattern with the jetstream, looking stronger, be more south towards the U.S. border. 

Tropical activity showing up again, in a long, long range charts. Maybe from mid to late next week something to keep an eye on. Thanks for listening and watching to the Day weather podcast. Hopefully you can get through the storm. Okay, talk to you Wednesday.

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Wyoming Weather: Get Ready For Snow

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We were holding out hope that a change in the weather pattern would mean the talk of snow early next week would dissipate. 

Fuggedaboutit. It’s happening.

Wyoming weatherman Don Day gave us absolutely no hope on Friday afternoon as he killed the thought of a reprieve from the wintry grim reaper.  

“Our confidence in snowfall on Monday and Tuesday keeps growing,” Day said.  “We have a pattern setting up that’s going to cut a lot of Canadian air loose out of the Northwest Territories straight south into Wyoming on Monday night and Tuesday.”

Day said the storm was a “good news, bad news” situation as the fire season will likely end as a result of the storm but so will the growing season.

“This will be a very impactful storm. Because it’s so early in the season, we have a lot of leaves on the trees. The storm could bring some branches down.”

Day said the entire state will be affected by the storm but mountainous areas, locations around the I-25 corridor, and the higher elevations on I-80 (of course, Laramie) will be the hardest hit.

“The crazy thing is all of this is gonna be preceded by some very hot temperatures through the weekend,” he said. “I mean, we’re going to have temperatures in the 80s and 90s. And 36 hours later, we’ll be in the teens and 20s.”

Not all areas of the state will receive measurable snow. Day said locations under 5,000 feet should expect rain and, at worst, a rain/snow mix.

Although rare, wintry patterns at this time year have happened before in Wyoming. 

Day points back to 1985 when only six weeks after a devastating flood hit Cheyenne on August 1, the capital city received 10 inches of snow.

Although we can all feel sorry for ourselves, perhaps we should save some empathy for Laramie. After all, their summer was really short.

Day recalled that Laramie got hit by a fluke snowstorm this year on June 8. That storm dumped 10 inches on the community.

“Laramie will only go 90 days between snowstorms this year,” he said. “Talk about a short growing season. This is truly 2020.”

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Don Day Wyoming Weather: 40 Degrees Below Normal, Snow Could Be In Forecast

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It’s going to be a roller coaster of extremes for Wyoming weather over the next few days.

Wyoming’s weatherman Don Day, in his daily podcast, said the state is going to be blasted by desert-heat over the next few days but then the jet stream “buckles,” bringing in cold air from Canada.

“Look at all this purple,” he said of the computer model showing the cold air.  In some areas of Wyoming and Colorado the temperatures are 40 degrees below normal.”

Day said the computer model is likely overdoing things but there is a possibility for freezing temperatures and snow — even on the plains — happening next week.

“Look at that, over an inch of snow in Casper and maybe a lot of snow in the Wind Rivers, the Big Horns, the Beartooths, the Front Range mountains of Colorado and the southern Wyoming, and the Laramie Range,” he said while looking at the computer model.

The full rough transcript of his podcast is below. Or just watch the embedded video for more.

———

It’s Thursday, September 3, 2020. And here’s your Day Weather podcast.

Well, folks, it’s gonna be interesting here over the next week in terms of what we’re going to see. 

First of all in the short-term, it’s going to get hot again, high pressure builds over and takes over strongly again across the Great Basin and Rockies. 

However, it’s temporary because after a big warm up, basically through Sunday over the next four days it’s going to get hot again, then we’re gonna have a big cool-down coming next week. Much colder with rain and yes, folks, we could very well see a chance of snow even on the plains early in the week next week starting late Monday, Labor Day Monday into Tuesday and Wednesday and next week. 

Temperatures are going to fall sharply by late Monday into next Tuesday and Wednesday, and we’ll show you why. 

Here we are for the forecast for Saturday. Look at this big high on Saturday over the four corners region in the Great Basin. So basically for today, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’re going to have the heat from this desert high rebuild and expand across the Intermountain West in the western plains, with the … main jet stream riding far to our north. 

But way back up here in the northern and Western Atlantic, there’s actually some tropical activity, some typhoon activity that’s going to get its energy into the jetstream and cause the jetstream to basically buckle and cause a big area of high pressure to build back up into the Gulf of Alaska. 

And here we see it forming by Sunday afternoon into Monday. See the high building in the Gulf of Alaska connected to the Great Basin high right here. And notice the jetstream buckles and when that happens, you get that release of colder air from Canada. 

So this is late Sunday into Monday morning. By the timeframe of Tuesday, we have a big high up in the Gulf of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and it drives another wedge of colder air into the High Plains and Rockies. Now this is very similar to what happened early this week. However, this plunge of colder air is deeper. 

There’s going to be more moisture with it. And a lot of the computer models are green on a trough and a strong cold front Monday night Tuesday and Wednesday across the High Plains and Rockies. Now this is both good news and bad news. 

The good news is this could be the best chance of widespread precipitation in a long time in the drought-stricken areas of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, parts of Montana and the Dakotas and into the plains states. 

Yes, we are going to see a real big cooldown but it could be wet. Here’s the cool down. Look at all this purple. This is by Tuesday. In some areas of Wyoming and Colorado, temperatures are 40 degrees below normal.

Now that is likely overdone. However, the possibility of freezing temperatures and the first flakes of snow even on the plains could happen next week. If we don’t get cold enough for snow we’ll certainly see some good chances of rain and certainly the high country of Wyoming and Colorado is going to have a good chance of snow. 

So for archery hunters headed to the field, next week, you probably are going to see a cold wet pattern up in the mountains for a few days. As we see here, zooming in, look at the close-up of these temperatures. Right here, this is by noon on Tuesday, Denver 46 degrees below average with our temperatures, that basically means temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s by noon on Tuesday. 

We’ll see if it’s that cold. Models, a lot of timesm overdo things as we well know. But this extensive area purple shows you how impressive that cold air is. But when you get cold air like that this time of year, you’re going to get some upslope conditions that are going to form and hence there you have the good chances of precipitation. 

Look at that, over an inch in Casper maybe. A lot of snow in the Wind Rivers, the Big Horns, the Beartooths, the Front Range mountains of Colorado and the southern Wyoming, the Laramie range, even up into the Pine Ridge of Nebraska, the Panhandle, Nebraska, that’s likely going to be rained. 

And it’s a pattern folks to pay close attention to because we’re going to go back to hot summer weather here for the next four days. Then we’re going into reverse. And here we are with the forecasts of potential snowfall with this front. Now again, take this with a grain of salt but you can see even down into New Mexico. 

We have got this large area by next Tuesday and Wednesday, we’re gonna be cold enough for snow reaching certainly the highest elevations and maybe those lower elevations above 6,000 feet. So it’s something to watch. We’ll update you tomorrow. So be ready for the heat. Then be ready for a 180 again next week. See you on Friday, have a good day.

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Severe Storm Season Still Here; South Dakota Blasted By Grapefruit-Sized Hail

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Yes, if you go to many supermarkets now you’ll see an array of ceramic jack-o-lanterns, giant inflatable goblins, and other Halloween-related Halloween.

But that doesn’t mean summer is over yet — especially summer weather. And all the evidence you need that summer weather is still here happened over the weekend in South Dakota.

Grapefruit-sized hail, measuring 4.5 inches, and 80 mph winds clobbered areas of the Black Hills on Saturday.

A graphic photo of one of the victims of the hailstorm went viral. The photo showed a baseball-sized hailstone next to her bloodied face.

“Caught in a massive hail storm at Pactola [Reservoir],” Sarah Robinson tweeted.  “No time to run to the car, covered the boys with tubes (thank god we had them) and mom took the hit. Better me than them!”

The National Weather Service in Rapid City called the weather event a “mesoscale convective system.”

Whatever you call it, the Cheyenne Weather Service said the storm was a “sobering reminder to have multiple ways to receive a weather warning, especially if you’re traveling.”

Wyoming’s weatherman Don Day said Wyoming has about one more month where weather like this is possible.

“Severe weather season usually winds down very quickly after the first 10 days of September,” Day said.  “Until then, we still have the risk of hail and heavy rain, strong winds, and tornadoes but once we hit mid late September severe weather goes down significantly.”

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Southeastern, Central Wyoming Under Red Flag Warning Until Late Friday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Much of southeastern Wyoming is under a red flag warning for fire danger until late Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Cheyenne.

The affected area stretches from Baggs all the way east past Cheyenne and into Torrington. It also stretches as far north as Bill and Glenrock.

The Weather Service predicted winds of around 15 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph.

Meteorologist Don Day noted in his Friday forecast that Wyoming was in for warm and dry weather, perfect conditions for a red flag warning. Fire dangers will be a concern over the weekend and into next week, he added.

“We have been able to avoid widespread or big fires this fire season so far, knock on wood,” Day said. “But be really careful if you’re going out this weekend or next.”

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions either are occurring or will shortly. A combination of winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to this type of fire condition. Any fires that start in these conditions can spread rapidly, so outdoor burning should be avoided.

The NWS provided tips on what to do during a red flag warning, which inclulded:

  • If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch;
  • Don’t throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They could ignite dry grass on the side of the road and start a wildfire;
  • Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Don’t throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it;
  • Never leave a fire unattended, since sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite and fire and quickly spread.

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This Week is Your Last Best Chance to See Comet NEOWISE

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If you haven’t seen Comet NEOWISE yet, don’t despair.

Wyoming meteorologist and amateur astronomer Don Day said this week is prime-time viewing for the comet.

Day said NEOWISE will have a magnitude of 3 this week which means you’ll be able to see it with the naked eye and with binoculars or a telescope, the view will be “fantastic.”

“It’s absolutely still worth it to go out and see it,” Day said.  “The tail is really, really long. It will look like a faint, white smudge.” 

Why should you be excited about a “faint, white smudge”?

Because it’s the most visible comet since Hale-Bopp and with binoculars or a telescope, that smudge will come alive.

Day said the best viewing time is about an hour after sundown through midnight. 

For best results, go outside where it’s dark and the skies are clear. 

The key here, Day said, is a spot where the light pollution is minimal.

Find the Big Dipper (look to your northwest).

Then, look straight down. It’s about 20 degrees above the horizon. The more your eyes get used to the environment, the more clear the comet will appear.

And if you have a pair of binoculars or an entry-level telescope, “you’ll be dazzled,” he said.

If you want to take a picture of it, Day recommends the purchase of a tripod and a digital camera.

“You can get some amazing pictures of it,” he said.  “Go with a high ISO and the exposure time should be between 5 to 25 seconds.”

He said purchasing a sky tracker — which synchronizes your camera with the rotation of the Earth — isn’t necessary but it will improve the shot.

Day’s photo (above) was taken Friday night about 10:30 p.m. near Keystone, Wyoming. He said the ISO was set at 4800 and the exposure time was 25 seconds.

“You’ll probably be disappointed with the naked eye, but you look at it with binoculars or telescope, watch out,” he said.

Day did say that the comet can probably be viewed through the end of August but this week will be the last, best time to see the comet.

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Don Day: Extreme Fire Danger For Parts of Wyoming This Weekend

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Wyoming meteorologist Don Day is urging caution this weekend as the fire danger in the state is between the categories of “very high” and “extreme”.

That’s due to a high pressure system located in Arizona and New Mexico which is pushing the desert heat into Wyoming.

“The fire danger is sky high,” Day said. “It has really gone up this week in many areas. Lots of fire restrictions especially in the forests. But across the plains as well.”

Day urged caution this weekend as a stagnant weather pattern will continue through Tuesday.

“This is going to be a critical weekend to get through with extremely high fire dangers in the very high to extreme category over most of Wyoming’s mountain areas,” Day said.

Although a monsoon will move into the area, it’s a weak one so the relief won’t be as pronounced. 

“It’s going to be a very weak monsoon this year so keep your expectations in check,” he said.

“We do expect thunderstorm chances to get better mid- to late week in the region,” Day said.

For Day’s full weekend forecast and a look at Comet NEOWISE, watch the video (above).

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How to See Comet NEOWISE In Wyoming

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Some of the great things about living in Wyoming are the wide open spaces and the unobstructed vistas.

This is especially true when we have a comet viewable with the naked eye. And that time is now.

Comet NEOWISE is now making itself seen for us earthlings and here in Wyoming, that means we’re going to get a good show.

That good show has already made itself visible to the state’s early risers, like our friend Don Day, the meteorologist known as Wyoming’s weatherman.

Day doesn’t have superpowers that give him X-ray vision or anything. It’s just that he gets up at around 3:30 every morning.

So when Comet NEOWISE appears on the horizon an hour later, he gets the view.

For the next few days, the comet will be visible between 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. the east-northeast portion of the sky.

Don’t want to get up that early? No problem. Just wait until Monday, when NEOWISE will become an evening comet.

“This is really turning into a good comet,” Day said from his office in the old airport tower in Cheyenne.  “We don’t get these very often when you can see them with your naked eye.”

Day said comet fans were worried about NEOWISE because the last two comets predicted to put on a show — Atlas and Swan — broke up as they made their journey around the sun before they could make a close pass of Earth.

Not so with this comet. It made the trip around the sun and is now “hurtling through space to give us some natural fireworks,” Day said.

“NEOWISE isn’t as bright as Hale-Bopp,” Day said, referring to the legendary comet visible from Earth in 1997. But he said it’s a good one.

“If you are an astrophotography buff, you should be able to get some spectacular photos because of our great horizons and topography,” he said.

To watch the comet in the evening starting on Monday, Day suggested looking to the northwest and low on the horizon right about sunset.

“Just look for the Big Dipper and go down from there,” Day said. “You won’t be disappointed.”

Day said great photographs of NEOWISE are available on SpaceWeather.com

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Wyoming Among Top States Where Fatal Lightning Strikes Occur

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is among the top 10 states where fatal lightning strikes occur, according to the National Weather Service.

In a graphic posted to the NWS Cheyenne’s Facebook page kicking off Lightning Awareness Safety Week, it showed that Wyoming, Colorado and eight other states across the country had the most lightning strike fatalities over the last decade.

Meteorologist Don Day told Cowboy State Daily that Wyoming is such a target for lightning for a few reasons.

“We live in a place with a high frequency of thunderstorms,” he explained. “Also, Wyoming has such wide open spaces and there are miles and miles with no trees. In a lot of situations, you’re the highest point and lightning has an easier time finding you.”

Wyoming’s peak thunderstorm season is from June to August, although storms usually start in March and end around October.

Since people recreate outdoors so frequently in Wyoming, fatal lightning strikes can happen while someone is hiking, climbing or walking along a ridge.

According to NWS, around 23 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur every year in the United States, with approximately 290,000 of them occurring in Wyoming.

From 1984 to 2013, the U.S. averaged 51 lightning fatalities per year. Only around 10% of the people struck by lightning are killed, but the other 90% must cope with varying degrees of discomfort and disability, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

From 1959 to 2012, Wyoming was considered the first in the country in the number of lightning deaths and injuries per capita. Since 1995, all of the lightning fatalities in Wyoming have occurred in the mountains.

In Wyoming, lightning is responsible for more deaths and injuries than any other thunderstorm phenomena. From 1996 to 2013, lightning was attributed to eight fatalities and 70 injuries across the state.

Day noted that if anyone is looking to hike throughout the peak storm season, they should start early and wrap up their journey around noon or 1 p.m., since afternoons and evenings are usually when Wyoming’s storms develop.

Golfers should abide by similar guidelines and make note of lightning shelters at their local golf course.

Boaters should get back onto shore as quickly as possible when they begin to hear thunder and seek shelter immediately.

“The best course of action is to avoid situations where the risk of a lightning strike goes up,” Day said. “Lightning can defy logic. It’s crazy, it can do some amazing things. But these lightning strikes happen more often than you think and it’s a dangerous part of living out here.”

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