Protecting your athletes is always your first priority, and that’s made no easier when severe weather and lightning threatens your campus. Being prepared with accurate weather insights and a full understanding of best practices when dealing with lightning is the only way to ensure you’ll be ready to manage these kinds of threats on game day.
In an article for Facility Executive, DTN Senior Sports Meteorologist Brad Nelson, who has 12 years of experience specializing in lightning, severe weather safety, and evacuations for golf courses and other large venues, further explains the importance of being prepared for severe weather conditions. “When it comes to severe weather, lightning poses the biggest threat to outdoor facilities and venues, especially in the summer,” says Nelson. Over the last 10 years, lightning has killed 30 people on average each year and injured about 300 others in the United States alone.”
Nelson warns that a lightning strike can measure two to three miles in length and can travel up to a 25-mile radius from the center of the storm. “When a thunderstorm hits and lightning is close, facility managers only have minutes, maybe even seconds, to make critical safety decisions,” he says. “To prevent injuries or even fatalities, facility managers must have a plan in place.”
Since every facility is unique, evacuation procedures and severe weather plans should be just as unique, according to Nelson. “Developing a lightning-specific safety plan is key, which should be customizable based on location, season, crowd size, event type, and time needed for evacuation,” he says. “One of the most important roles is the weather monitor, whose sole responsibility should be continuously monitoring the weather affecting the area and watching for severe weather warnings and lightning potential.
“In order to be effective in this role, the weather monitor should utilize professional, accurate forecasts and consultation to understand when there is a real threat and evacuation is needed,” Nelson adds. “While there are many free weather Apps and local news weather forecasts available, few provide weather forecasts for specific venue locations nor do they provide actionable alerts when that location is at risk of lightning danger or severe weather.”
That’s where the WeatherSentry Sports Edition by DTN comes into play. The weather station confidently protects athletes and spectators from inclement weather by helping facility managers eliminate the guesswork. Its accurate daily and hourly weather forecasts monitor severe weather, lightning, heat, and rain, and over 50 customizable parameters can be set to alert you when certain conditions, like dangerous lightning, arise. In fact, the WeatherSentry Sports Edition can generate reports that include not only the proximity of lightning strikes, but all of the details about each individual strike, such as distance, amperage, polarity, time, and location.
According to Nelson, DTN offers “services that deliver critical real-time alerting, location-specific forecasts, lightning display and thunderstorm information,” which help facilities stick to their game plans. “Professional meteorologists can advise when an evacuation is needed as well as provide detailed information on the current storm situation, allowing facility managers and staff to focus on the event at hand,” Nelson says.
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