Football, Lightning, and Weather Delays
by Dax Cochran, on Aug 29, 2018 12:56:30 PM
It is football week here in Oklahoma. To many, this week is the pinnacle of anticipation before your favorite college team, or alma mater plays their first game of the season. For me, this week is spent gearing up for the 60 plus NCAA and NFL games we will routinely support week in and out throughout the season.
Many times, we are the weather-voice for multiple stakeholders such as teams, leagues, venues, and the broadcasters. Sometimes that information results in a weather delay. Technology now allows us to get more concise data to the right people faster which results in more efficient delays with minimal disruption needed. This wasn’t always the case, and historically, coordination to resume a game was challenging.
With better technology and new lightning safety recommendations from NOAA’s Lightning Safety Toolkit for 2018, we are hoping to continue this improvement to help make the experience better for fans. Before this year, recommendations suggested an event wait 30 minutes after the last strike within an 8-mile radius before resuming. Keep in mind, within this time no one can do anything, and it doesn’t include the amount of time it takes to resume a game. While this is a safe plan, there are times where the lightning threat has cleared, and the game could be safe to continue, even before this period has passed. We are working to help alleviate that scenario.
As part of their weather information and support plan, many events now consult professional forecasters to help guide them with decision-making. In light of this, NOAA has updated the guidelines which now state that an event may be safe to resume before 30 minutes, but only when consulting a meteorologist. At WeatherOps, we have prepared for this, and our forecasting team will now be able to help get things going a little faster. Each weather event is unique, but our team will be assessing weather information and communicating updates to these games. If the forecaster feels there is no longer a threat, a decision can be made to resume.
While we won’t be able to give the early “all clear” every single time, hopefully, we can build upon the success with more efficient delays to help ensure a safe environment for fans in the stands and a better experience for TV viewers. So, let our team help your team get back to playing football earlier when weather threatens.