Daily Journal

Although severe weather can strike at any time of the year, spring tends to be Indiana’s wildest season weatherwise.

And with numerous spring sports involving scores of young athletes, safety from extreme weather is paramount in the minds of coaches and administrators.

Center Grove has added to its weather tools with the recent installation of lightning detection and protection systems at Center Grove High School and Center Grove Middle School North. Because the systems cover a 2½-mile radius, all but two of the school district’s buildings will be covered.

If a potential lightning strike is nearby, a strobe light and air horn will go off automatically. The system will search for potential lightning strikes throughout the day, alerting school personnel during recess, outdoor physical education classes, and outdoor sporting events and practices.

People in homes and public areas within the systems’ coverage also can hear the alerts, adding to greater general public safety.

For athletics teams, there are established protocols for dealing with severe weather. If lightning is spotted, activity is suspended until a prescribed time has elapsed with no further strikes. Athletes and fans are moved to safer areas.

In addition, school officials regularly check weather radar online or on TV so they have an idea of what kind of weather is coming and when it will arrive. Some have handheld instruments that sense when lightning is near. Others utilize smartphone apps that keep them apprised of conditions.

At the first sign of severe weather, officials evacuate fields and grandstands to avoid tragedies. For example, five years ago, several high school football games were delayed and even postponed because of severe weather. Crowd size and fan convenience weren’t — and can’t be in the future — a consideration when it came to postponing play.

The National Weather Service doesn’t tell officials they have to evacuate concerts, games or other outdoor events. But its warnings tell people when they should find shelter.

When the well-being of athletes, team personnel and the fans is at risk, there is no other primary consideration than safety. The Center Grove lightning systems are another tool in that effort.

At issue

The well-being of athletes, team personnel and the fans is paramount when there’s a risk of severe weather.

Our point

The Center Grove lightning detection systems are one more tool to help ensure safety.