The Richmond Hill Recreation Association (RHRA) has implemented a new weather warning system to alert spectators, athletes and staff of lightning strikes in the area.
With safety being the main concern of the RHRA, the board members recently voted to spend money for the system, according to Kay Green, the South Bryan Recreation director. She said the system is up and running, and the first warning was sounded on April 22.
Currently, the system is only being used at DeVaul Henderson Park since the system was funded by RHRA and not the county, Green said. There is no alert system at J.F. Gregory Park in Richmond Hill or at Hendrix Park in North Bryan County.
The weather warning system, known as the Thor Guard Lightning Prediction System, provides an advanced warning of a lightning hazard in the area and is supposed to allow anyone at the park time to seek shelter.
The system will sound a 15 second horn blast to alert individuals of lightning near the recreation complex. When this occurs, people are asked to seek shelter in the form of permanent buildings or vehicles. The warning system also activates a strobe light that remains active as long as the area remains under a weather alert.
After the alert is lifted, the Thor Guard system issues three five-second blasts and the strobe light will cease. At that point, it is assumed to be safe to return to previous activities.
The horns and strobe light are located on the roof of the concession stand between the soccer and football fields.
The Thor Guard system is capable of predicting lightning in heavy showers with no history of lightning, a weakening storm, an active strong storm and after a storm has passed.
Unlike lightning detection, Thor Guard is supposed to predict lighting by sensing and evaluating shifts and changes in the electrostatic field associated with inclement weather before an actual lightning strike occurs.