When lightning strikes, a life can be drastically changed. This was the case for me in July of 2006 when my best friend, Lee Weisbrod, was struck by lightning and passed away. Check out my map that shows the area in Bergen County where the lightning strike occurred in addition to immediate surrounding towns that have lightning detection systems installed to prevent another tragedy from happening.
Monthly Archives: October 2008
Here’s what I’m looking at today…
- A study finds a relationship between global climate, weather patterns, and the formation and movement of intense storms such as those that produce lightning and thunder.
- Take the lightning quiz and see how much you know!
- United States lightning activity in the last 60 minutes provided by StrikeStarUS.
- PBS explains the fundamentals of lightning and even provides answers from expert Joe Dwyer of The Florida Institute of Technology.
- The Lightning Injury Research Program provides lightning strike survivors with an informational and educational tool in addition to information and educational tools for parents and teachers.
- Dr. John M. Horack, Director of Science Communications, discusses what happens when individuals get struck by lightning.
What shocking sites are you looking at?
I’m a college student and I live on campus at Rowan University. This means my main mode of transportation around the medium-sized public university campus is my own two feet. That being said, on Saturday I was walking through campus on my way to the Rec Center while heavy rain was falling with my umbrella.
While walking, I was thinking about the storm that was supposed to hit the area later that night and how the storm wasn’t going to stop numerous college students from walking during the thunder and lightning to get to the local bar, Landmark, to root on the Philadelphia Phillies during Game 3 of the World Series.
By the time they’d get to the bar, they’d be soaking wet – unless they used an umbrella. But how safe is using an umbrella while walking through a thunder/lightning storm?
Lightning only searches within a 50-yard radius both upward and downward. This means that lightning is attracted to tall objects such as hills, trees, towers, buildings, and yes – at times – umbrellas.
If you are walking with an umbrella in an area composed of tall buildings, lightning will strike the tallest object. However, you must be careful for the “side flash,” when lightning strikes something close to where you are standing and then jumps from that to you.
If you are already the only tall object within 50 yards, it doesn’t matter much what you are holding (umbrella included) so get somewhere safe – skip the gym or class if you have to (sorry, professors!).
Lightning seems to be the underrated killer. People often underestimate the power of Mother Nature. In the United States alone, there is an estimate of 25 million lightning flashes each year. According to NOAA’s Weather Service in the past thirty years, lightning has caused the death of an average of 62 people per year.
While these stats are pretty high, lightning is often underrated as a risk due to lightning only killing one or two people at a time and due to lightning not causing much physical property damage.
The National Weather Service estimates the US’s average of lightning deaths each year to be 67 although the number is estimated to be closer to 100. And believe it or not, only ten percent of the people struck each year die from their injuries.
In New Jersey between 1997-2006, there was 9 reported deaths by lightning.
Hillsdale N.J. recently put lightning safety into their town football association guidelines. The policy expects coaches, umpires, coordinators, or the adult in charge to sign the policy so they are aware of the safety practice in addition to the penalties they face if they disregard the policy. Continue reading
Lightning detection quite simply works by listening for identifying noises on a radio spectrum to determine the strength and ultimately the distance of lightning strikes in the area. The detector uses directional antennas to determine the distance of the lightning. The data is then sent to software that plots the strikes on a map.
The National Lightning Safety Institute released an overview of lightning detection equipment article yesterday. In the article, NLSI stresses the importance of lightning detection systems due to their ability to give notice to shut down dangerous operations before the arrival of lightning. In addition, after lightning the detection gives an “all clear” signal, which is highly influential to the public.
According the NLSI, the available technologies currently include:
- Radio Frequency (RF) Detectors – measure energy discharges from lightning
- Inferometers – more precise and require a skilled operator
- The National Lightning Detection Network
- Atmospheric Field Mill Monitors – measure voltage changes of Earth’s electric field and report changes, which build lightning
- Optical Monitors - earlier warning, which detects the cloud-to-cloud lightning that occurs before cloud-to-ground lightning
- Hybrid Designs - combination of other technology designs
- Subscription Services (such as accuweather.com, intellicast.com, skyview-wx.com, etc.)
Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, N.J. holds a near and dear place in my heart. It was there that my friendships from middle school solidified, it was there where I made new lasting friendships, and it was there that I grew into my own skin.
This weekend, I made a trip home to North Jersey and had the opportunity to attend a football game at PVHS. As I was leaving the field and walking past the tennis courts, I noticed this sign.
PVHS is one of the locations where Hillsdale has their lightning detection. The rules are simple: When the alarm sounds and the red light flashes, evacuate the field immediately.
Check back shortly for a slideshow featuring other images of lightning detection systems at locations in Hillsdale and River Vale.
It’s been a little over two years since the death of Lee Weisbrod and Steve Fagan. Many North Jersey towns saw this has a warning and have worked to install lightning detection systems in hopes of preventing a similar tragedy from happening in the future.
Some towns with lightning detection are:
- Bergen County Public Golf Courses:
- East Rutherford:
- Glen Rock:
Faber Field Complex
- Harrington Park:
(As of June 2007, the process of looking for an installation company had started.)
Stonybrook Swim Club
Pascack Valley High School
Montvale Swim Club
Pascack Hills High School
- River Vale:
(Future plans of installation at the Grove Complex, Range Field, and Roberge Field.)
- Park Ridge:
(Location not yet determined.)
(Location not yet determined.)
- Woodcliff Lake:
Old Mill Park
If your town has detection feel free to comment with town name and lightning detection location.
According to a recent article in The Pascack Press, the lightning detectors that are currently being installed in River Vale will be dedicated to the memory of two lightning victims, Lee Weisbrod (River Vale resident) and Steve Fagan (Washington Township resident).
The dedication, according to River Vale Mayor Joseph Blundo, will occur once the detectors are fully installed and operational.
Currently River Vale has detection at Mark Lane.
The town has hopes of installing more at the Grove Complex, Range Field, and Roberge Field.
Personally as a friend of Weisbrod, the dedication means a lot. It is just another thing that will make him live on forever in addition to lending a hand in saving other peoples’ lives.