Oviedo uses lightning detection system to alert community of incoming storms

Thor Guard lightning prediction system tells people when they need to seek cover

OVIEDO, Fla. – Central Florida is a lightning hot spot.

Finland-based Vaisala recently named Four Corners the lightning capital of the United States.

Just down the road in Oviedo, city leaders are working to protect people from lightning strikes in their city parks.

“We utilize what’s called the Thor Guard lightning prediction system,” said Jack Whittaker, Assistant Recreation and Parks Director with the city of Oviedo. “And we have them in nine of our parks, they give a nice, long, loud blast.”

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The system alerts people if they need to seek cover. Whittaker said they direct people to either get in their cars or go inside a bathroom at their city parks.

Whittaker added that installing the technology at one park can cover several locations.

“We have three main facilities that communicate out to our other facilities. Our sports complex, where our baseball league practices and plays games, is right around the corner from our soccer complex so those two communicate with each other. So if we’re closing down activities in the baseball side, we’re also closing down activities on the soccer side just to ensure safety for everyone,” he said.

Whittaker said the city recently upgraded the system for a total cost of $35,000, adding he has seen the benefits firsthand.

“One year, we were all out on the deck (at the Riverside Park Complex). We saw the storms closely approaching Thor Guard activated immediately we cleared the pool and by the time everybody was off the deck and parents were getting their kids in the car right across the street on the first hole at the Twin Rivers golf course we saw a nice big flash,” he said.

To learn more about the lighting detection system and how it protects children and families check out Talk To Tom or watch anytime on News 6+.

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Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.