June 20, 2022, marks the seven years since Hiawatha resident, Rebecca McCarty was struck and killed by lightning when camping in eastern Iowa. It was the last time someone was killed by lightning in the state of Iowa, but there were actually two lightning deaths in Iowa during 2015. The other happened in Muscatine county when a man was riding his horse on May 4th.
There are tons of beautiful campsites to enjoy in Iowa, but safety should be at the top of your mind when planning. June is peak severe weather month in Iowa, but storms can happen during any month of the year.
Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines is just one of the state parks in the central Iowa area, but there are still limited places where you could shelter from lightning. That’s why it’s important to think ahead.
“Do a little research ahead of time, know where you’re going, know the area, know what amenities are in the campground when you get there. Take a look at your campsite when you arrive look up and when you’re backing in, just make sure the area is safe when you get there. We do our best to keep apprised of things, but still, weather and other events create some problems in-between time,” said Iowa DNR’s Chad Kelchen.
Kelchen also advises people to seek the closest shelter when storms hit, no matter if their car or boat dock is farther away. Time is of the essence during a storm, and no place is safe from lightning when you’re outdoors.