Lightning Policy

Due to the significant risks and possibility of fatal injury from lightning and severe weather, it is imperative that the Town of Christiansburg adopt a clear policy on how to deal with inclement weather and its effect on activities held within Town parks, facilities and on other public properties and rights-of-way (sidewalks, streets, etc.). This policy will help to clearly state the Town’s position on this issue and help to define roles of certain individuals during the decision making process. The chief concern of the Town, event organizer, or renter of outdoor facilities must be the safety of all participants, attendees, staff and spectators of the activity.

The following plan will be in effect for all Town of Christiansburg sanctioned or sponsored events/activities as well as any person or organization renting any Town property. For purposes of this policy, a Town-sponsored event is defined as an event where all direction and organization of the occasion is overseen by Town officials or administrators. A Town-sanctioned event is defined as an organization hosting a Town-approved activity, whereby an event organizer oversees direction and organization. The Town of Christiansburg provides support and resources for the activity when applicable. Lastly, a rental is described as the occupation of Town property, whereby a renter is utilizing Town property or facilities, which include athletic fields or picnic shelters.

In the event of threatening or inclement weather before or during a Town-sponsored event, a designated Town official or other designee will inform the attendees and participants of impending severe weather through on-site coordination and/or through the Town’s electronic messaging system. For any Town-sanctioned events, an appointed representative of the presiding organization is responsible for communicating any severe weather information to attendees. In cases of a facility rental, it is the renter’s responsibility to notify attendees and/or spectators of any impending weather-related updates.

GENERAL POLICY SPECIAL EVENTS: For a sanctioned or sponsored event, a Town of Christiansburg official or designee may monitor the weather and make the decision to notify the event organizer of dangerous situations and may enforce the suspension or cancelation of the activity in the event of severe weather. The decision to cancel, suspend or continue an event include but are not limited to:

· Any reported lightning strike on the mobile DTN Weather Sentry Lightning/Storm Detector app within the eight-mile caution range regardless of the presence of visible lightning. The decision to cancel, suspend or continue the event during this occurrence will be at the discretion and authority of any two presiding members of the Severe Weather Committee. The committee will confer and make a decision to continue or discontinue the event based upon the information provided by the DTN weather system.

· Utilization of the Flash-to-Bang Method (Count the seconds from the time the lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard. Divide this number by five to obtain how far away, in miles, the lightning is occurring.) If it reveals lightning to be within the 8-mile caution range, (a 40-second count between the flash of lightning and the bang of thunder) the decision to cancel, suspend or continue the event during this occurrence will be at the discretion of any two presiding members of the Severe Weather Committee.

· Any lightning that is recorded on the mobile weather sentry DTN app within the six mile warning range of a designated Town of Christiansburg mobile user’s location will warrant a mandatory shut down of the event

· It shall be the policy that if lightning strikes within a six mile radius of the site, a mandatory suspension of the event will be in effect until 30 minutes have passed without any additional lightning or weather warnings

· Utilization of the Flash-to-Bang Method (Count the seconds from the time lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard. Divide this number by five to obtain how far away, in miles, the lightning is occurring). If it reveals lightning to be within the 6-mile warning range, (a 30-second count between the flash of lightning and the bang of thunder) the event will shut down and everyone should seek shelter immediately.

GENERAL POLICY ATHLETIC EVENTS AND FACILITY RENTALS: For sanctioned athletic events, activities and facility rentals a Town of Christiansburg official or designee may monitor the weather and make the decision to notify the organization, club or renter of dangerous situations and may enforce the suspension or cancelation of activity in the event of severe weather. The decision to cancel, suspend or postpone an event include but are not limited to:

· Any reported lightning strike on the stationery DTN Weather Sentry Lightning/Storm Detector (100 East Main St. Christiansburg, VA 24073) within the eight-mile range regardless of the presence of visible lightning. If this is to occur, the athletic event, activity or facility rental will be shut down immediately and will not continue until the all clear has been issued by the DTN Weather system

· Utilization of the Flash-to-Bang Method (Count the seconds from the time the lightning is sighted to when the clap of thunder is heard. Divide this number by five to obtain how far away, in miles, the lightning is occurring.) If it reveals lightning to be within 8 miles (a 40 second count between the flash of lightning and the bang of thunder) activity is to be suspended and everyone should seek shelter immediately.

SEVERE WEATHER COMMITTEE: For any Town sponsored or sanctioned event or activity, a severe weather committee is organized that includes the Town’s Emergency Coordinator, Town Manager, Assistant Town Manager, Director of Parks and Recreation, Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation, Highest Ranking Law Enforcement Officer working the event and the Event Manager. For any given event, any two presiding members of the committee have the authority to cancel, shut down or continue the event in question due to severe weather in the area before or during the event or activity. The Committee will monitor the weather through the use of the mobile DTN Weather Sentry Lightning and Storm Detector (if equipped) or by the Flash-to Bang Method.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF CAUTION (SPECIAL EVENTS), SUSPENSION OR CANCELATION OF ACTIVITY: Once it is determined that there is a danger of inclement weather, a Town official or designee has the authority to cancel any Town-sanctioned event, activity or rental facility at any point up to and during the event, and immediately request the removal of all vendors, attendees and organizers. In the case of Town-sanctioned activities, it shall be the responsibility of a designated representative of the presiding organization, group or renter to notify and enforce all vendors, attendees or spectators to immediately evacuate the area.

EVACUATION OF THE AREA: When communication is made with regard to severe weather and lightning in the warning area, all attendees, spectators and participants are encouraged to seek shelter immediately. All parties will be urged to evacuate to a safe location until conditions improve unless otherwise notified by an appropriate Town official or designee. Prior to the activity, event or rental, an evacuation plan may be required by the Town depending on the nature of the activity, which will be at the discretion of the Town’s Emergency Coordinator.

RETURN TO THE AREA: An event can resume 30 minutes following the last lightning strike recorded within the warning area. The last lightning strike will be determined by either the detection system or visual confirmation with flash bang method in place. The 30-minute time frame will immediately start over with each additional lightning strike within the warning range.