343 Lightning Impacts on Sporting Event Operations

Monday, 7 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Andrew Rosenthal, Earth Networks, Germantown, MD

Handout (490.5 kB)

Lightning remains a significant hazard for anyone competing in outdoor activities due to its potentially deadly consequences. Formal organized sports, particularly those in large arenas full of spectators, athletes and staff, seek to balance the prospect for deteriorating game quality against this danger posed by lightning. Therefore it is imperative to adequately warn appropriate officials to the threat of lightning and impending storms at just the appropriate time to minimize delay time. Utilizing information from the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network (ENTLN), a database of the initial cloud-to-ground and in-cloud lightning strikes (total lightning) has been created. Reviews of the ENTLN data were performed to determine the correlation of lightning strikes to action taken, including delays and game-cancellations. An additional study was conducted to determine the quantity of impacts prevented by use of a covered stadium rather than an open-air stadium. Additional studies considered the impacts of total lightning based on geography and time of year. This presentation will provide discussion of the value of total lightning in weather-related decision making at sporting events, a comparison of covered and open-air venues as well as geographical and seasonal aspects of the total lightning data discussed.
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