Rush Lightning Policy
According to information collected by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Colorado was ranked 3rd for highest lightning deaths from 1990-2003, with 39 deaths occurring during that time period. During that same time period, Colorado was also ranked 3rd when weighted for population. El Paso County has one of the highest lightning densities in Colorado. Because lightning is a big concern, coaches, parents and players need to be aware of appropriate safety procedures.
The following steps are modified from those recommended by the NCAA and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in the event of lightning or severe storm warning:
1. Monitor threatening weather conditions and make the decision to remove a team or individuals from an athletic venue or event.
2. Monitoring should include obtaining a weather report prior to a practice or competitive event. Be aware of potential thunderstorms that may form. Be aware of National Weather Service-issued (NWS) thunderstorm "watches" and "warnings" as well as the signs of thunderstorms developing nearby. "Watch" means conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop in an area; "Warning" means that severe weather has been reported in an area and for everyone to take proper precautions. Use a lightning app or a weather app with a lightning feature (e.g. Spark feature on the WeatherBug app) to help detect lightning strikes.
3. Be aware of how close lightning is occurring. Count the seconds using the flash-to-bang (flash of lightning-to-clap of thunder) method. Count the seconds and divide by five, which gives you the distance, in miles, that the lightning strike occurred. By the time the flash-to-bang count is 50 seconds, all individuals should have moved to safety. Be alert at the first sign of lightning or thunder and judge the time necessary to evacuate all individuals from the athletic venue. The safest place during a lightning storm is an enclosed building. The second safest place is an enclosed, hard top vehicle with the windows rolled up.
Flash-to-Bang: Count seconds from lightning flash to thunder bang, divide by 5 to determine how many miles away lightning strike occurred. Based on this information, you should clear the fields at 10 miles or 50 seconds.
Clearing the fields
Once a decision has been made by a coach or the athletic trainer, all players need to seek shelter in a permanent enclosed shelter. If no shelter is available, a hard top, enclosed car is the next safest option. At Gossage, the only safe option is inside the bathrooms or in a car. At Discovery and Boddington, please get inside a car. Covered but open structures are not safe.
An average lightning delay lasts approximately 30 minutes, at a minimum. Parents and coaches must set the example by remaining in their cars or under shelter until the signal to resume training is given.
All coaches, managers and parents must make sure this procedure is followed. All lightning or storm delays will be communicated by one of two methods: 1) verbal direction from a director of coaching or athletic trainer or 2) the blow of an air horn. The same communication will signify the end of the delay.
Remember, lightning can strike 10 miles away from a storm cloud. Just because a blue sky is overhead, does not mean that lightning cannot strike. Do not be outside if lightning is within 10 miles of the location.