React To Weather With Lightning Speed

This year, the 160-acre Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md., will welcome more than 650,000 players and spectators for thousands of outdoor soccer, flag football, rugby, and field hockey games.

Earth Networks alert systems help keep athletes and spectators safe.

While everyone is watching the action on the playing field, advanced weather, lightning detection, and alerting solutions from Earth Networks will help staff keep an eye on the sky and informed with critical weather intelligence that will better enable them to keep visitors safe from severe weather.

“Safety is everything. We aim to reduce injuries and create a positive experience for our visitors by providing the safest possible environment,” says Trish Heffelfinger, Executive Director, Maryland SoccerPlex.

Across the U.S., lightning kills an average of 54 people and seriously injures hundreds more every year. In central Maryland, summer weather can bring extreme heat and humidity that can easily reach into the mid- to upper-90s and beyond, while moderate to severe thunderstorms with high winds, hail and cloud-to-ground lightning – and even hurricanes and tornadoes – are possible.

“When severe conditions approach the Maryland SoccerPlex, players and visitors alike will hear a very loud, audible siren from our outdoor alerting system,” says Frank McCathran, Director, WeatherBug Schools and WeatherBug Club Safety Programs.To help staff stay alert regarding changing and potentially dangerous weather conditions and make decisions affecting whether to postpone or even cancel game play, the Maryland SoccerPlex relies on a comprehensive weather and lightning detection solutions suite from Earth Networks:

Total lightning sensor that is one of over 500 in the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network, the largest and most advanced lightning network for detecting both in-cloud (IC) and cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning. Since IC lightning is a precursor to severe weather, monitoring IC activity is essential for severe weather detection and warning.

On-site weather station that measures conditions including temperature, wind speed and direction, precipitation, humidity, and more. The station also calculates heat index, an essential factor when determining the safety of players and visitors.

• Outdoor alerting systems that automatically produce a high-decibel, attention-getting signal when any form of lightning enters a 10-mile radius surrounding the property. In the office, Alert Beacons activate when lightning approaches – providing advanced warning of impending severe weather conditions – including cloud-to-ground strikes.

• StreamerRT, a web-based weather visualization and alerting application used by staff to monitor storm cells, lightning strikes, and changing conditions. StreamerRT combines current data from the facility’s weather station with local weather information from the Earth Networks-WeatherBug neighborhood-level network of more than 8,000 weather stations.

• WeatherBug Mobile Apps provide the current forecast right from the on-site weather station, and proactively alert staff using mobile phones and tablet computers. Additionally, an LCD Weather Display at the facility’s front desk shows visitors the current temperature, the three-day forecast, weather camera images, and radar. The display is quickly becoming a popular spot for visitors before games.