Those in attendance at the Orlando University High School football game got way more than they bargained for this past Friday night as a bolt of cloud to ground lightning struck a tree just off of the field. The photo above was taken by Jeffrey King, a parent of one of the band members that was playing at the time the lightning struck.
The "striking" event was also captured in the following video posted to YouTube (you might want to jump ahead to about 5 minutes in, as the strike takes place at exactly 5:07):
Cloud to ground lightning is not a stranger in Florida, which in weather circles is known as the lightning capital of the U.S. Indeed, during the period 1959-2007, lightning strikes killed 449 people in the sunshine state, far more than the nearest contender, which was Texas with a (still) staggering 206 deaths. The folks in the stands adjacent to that tree are very, very fortunate to have been able to walk away from this event, for sure!
Bob Jones, the father of a player on the opposing team is quoted by the Orlando Sentinel Varsity Blog as saying "The weather was great and it hit without warning..."
Baseball fields, football fields and other outdoor sporting venues are prime targets for lightning strikes, primarily due to their vast and often wide open surroundings, metal seating and towering light poles. Fortunately, in this case the lightning strike did not directly impact those in attendance. Clearly, had they been given the opportunity to take shelter before the strike occurred, everyone would have been better off.
In the advanced technological era of today, there is no reason for a sporting venue to be caught off guard by a lightning strike that occurs "without warning". WeatherGuidance SiteWarn® service provides pinpoint warning of the threat of lightning (and other weather related hazards) based on specific parameters established by the client and our operational storm warning team.
At WeatherGuidance, we don't just send out an alert after a lightning strike has already taken place (frankly, what purpose would that serve, especially if your facility is the one struck by the first lightning bolt)? Instead, we use advanced, state of the art technology and proprietary methods to warn clients of impending lightning strikes before they actually take place. This allows our clients to move employees, customers and fans to safety before lightning strikes the tree next to the field (or even worse).