Texas Tech University and NWS Lubbock
Promote Lightning Safety Awareness

Jonathan Guseman, General Forecaster, NWS Lubbock, TX
Jody James, WCM, NWS Lubbock, TX

 
Thunderstorms and lightning threaten Jones Stadium during the Texas Tech-Stephen F. Austin football game on Sept. 7, 2013 in Lubbock, TX. Picture courtesy of Jenn Daniel.
Thunderstorms and lightning threaten Jones Stadium during the Texas Tech-Stephen F. Austin football game on Sept. 7, 2013 in Lubbock, TX. Picture courtesy of Jenn Daniel.
 

Texas Tech University (TTU), in conjunction with NWS Lubbock, has made lightning safety awareness across campus a top priority throughout the summer, in time for the return of students and fall activities.  Texas Tech has been a StormReady University since 2007, and continues to move forward with weather preparedness.

Beginning this past June, staff from NWS Lubbock met with Texas Tech University Counsel personnel, who oversee campus security and emergency management activities. The goal was to develop a more comprehensive lightning safety plan across the campus and at the various athletic venues.  The process and motivation for establishing the Lightning Safety Toolkit was presented to officials from each department and facility. The idea of implementing additional safety protocols was quickly accepted by everyone in attendance, especially after learning about the dangers of lightning across West Texas and recent delays and suspensions of multiple Big 12 athletic events.

Jones AT&T Stadium, the home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team, was chosen as the initial target venue given its large dynamic population of over 60,000 fans on gamedays.  The student leisure swimming pool and lazy river complex was also selected due to its high volume usage.  Actions were taken to quickly organize ways to alert people on campus to seek shelter. Plans were also developed to communicate safe shelters from lightning.

 
Texas Tech fans in the concourse area during a lightning delay on Sept. 7, 2013. Picture courtesy of Jenn Daniel.
Texas Tech fans in the concourse area during a lightning delay on Sept. 7, 2013. Picture courtesy of Jenn Daniel.
 
Plans that grew out of these meetings were quickly put to use as thunderstorms threatened the first home football game of the season on September 7th. Faculty and students from the TTU Atmospheric Science Department coordinated with NWS Lubbock staff in assessing the lightning threat from nearby thunderstorms, and a delay was implemented prior to the start of the game.  Messages were announced on the PA system and the stadium jumbotron, alerting fans to seek safety in the concourses or in their vehicles.  Furthermore, instructions were given on how fans should re-enter the stadium following the lightning delay.

A Lightning Safety Toolkit recognition ceremony is planned in the coming weeks. Future efforts will involve promoting lightning safety awareness across the entire campus, including establishing safe rooms in each building. NWS Lubbock will also continue to work with the Texas Tech Atmospheric Science Department in distributing safety brochures, which were created last year by the Texas Tech AMS Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society. 

NWS Lubbock personnel are excited and proud to be partners with Texas Tech in implementing the Lightning Safety Toolkit and making Red Raider Land safer for everyone.

 


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