As the 2016 NCAA College Football regular season comes to a close, we reflect on all the ways colleges and universities utilized their WeatherSTEM systems to protect hundreds of thousands of fans in the stands. WeatherSTEM systems were in place at ten campus-based stadiums this past season, with the combined seating capacity of over 650,000 patrons.
At each institution, teams of personnel from Athletics, Police, Emergency Management, Environmental Health & Safety, Fire, EMS and other partner entities work together to ensure the safety of fans at home games. These teams keep an eye on the skies and stare at radar screens for inclement weather. While lightning is the predominant threat, officials are also on the lookout for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, high winds, heavy rains, high heat and brutal cold.
In partnership with our lightning data provider, The Weather Company, WeatherSTEM offers institutions live, real-time lightning notification and monitoring. Clients can elect to receive lightning alerts via numerous delivery methods (text, email, phone call, app push, social media, and more). Users can define and customize their local preferences above and beyond NCAA or league guidance with adjustable distance and time parameters.
Once lightning is detected, campus officials can use WeatherSTEM’s Professional Lightning Assistant (PLA) and ZapMap to further monitor the ongoing lightning threat. The PLA even provides an estimated “All Clear” time based upon each strike and user preferences. Dashboards in development will allow for visual display in command posts and emergency operations centers.
Although some rain can make for an exciting football game on the field, it can become problematic if there’s too much, too fast. Some stadiums, like Florida State University’s Doak Campbell Stadium, are located on known flood plains. Extreme rainfall amounts and rates can result in potential life-threatening flash floods. WeatherSTEM allows you to measure real-time rain rates and rainfall totals on site at the stadium, rather than depend on a rain gauge miles away.
Early in the season, many stadiums bake in the late summer sun. High temperatures, high humidity, and direct sunlight often take a toll on fans. Many institutions, especially the South, experience high number of cases of heat exhaustion at home games by fans who are ill-prepared for the heat. While Heat Index (HI) measures what it feels like sitting still in the shade, WeatherSTEM’s Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is a measure of heat stress on a body in motion in full sunlight. The WBGT information is a valuable measurement for officials monitoring the safety of both athletes and fans. WeatherSTEM provides both current and forecasted values, to help identify potentially dangerous heat conditions days in advance. Late in the season, many northern locations experience cold temperatures, bitterly cold wind chills, and wintry precipitation. WeatherSTEM features allow institutions the opportunity to put in place additional resources to protect athletes and fans from these extremes.
Lastly, high winds can also pose a significant safety concern. Whether the winds are acutely associated with a thunderstorm or persistent due to pressure gradients, it doesn’t take much to send tailgating tents and other lightweight objects sailing across a parking lot. With forecast knowledge and real-time data, safety officials can advise patrons to pack things up to prevent injury or damage.
WeatherSTEM Lesson: Outdoor Weather Safety
WeatherSTEM is uniquely qualified to help support your inclement weather detection, notification, and monitoring needs to ensure the safety of patrons of your outdoor venues or special events. These same features can similarly be applied to K-12 school facilities, public parks, and private entertainment complexes.
Find out more: www.weatherstem.com