Extreme weather conditions was the talk of the weekend
The weekend saw our first experience of extreme weather with stormy weather and lightning hitting grounds around the district. Its important to know that in some extreme weather events the game can be suspended or cancelled as a result.
The National Extreme Weather Policy (January 2017) covers what can and will happen in extreme heat or lightning weather events, lightning being our most likely event.
Subsection 5 looks at what we as umpires can do in the event of lightning. In the absence of specific information from weather radar, a lightning location system, or a specialised warning device the 30/30 Safety guidelines should be used.
According to 30/30 Safety guidelines, when lightning is considered to be an actual threat to a game of football, the following procedures are to be followed. The officiating umpires are expected to judge the approximate distance of a storm front approaching a ground. This is done by using the simple method of measuring the time elapsed between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder.
By assuming the flash of lightning has reached the observer instantaneously, and knowing that sound travels at approximately 3 seconds a kilometre, the distance of the storm cell can be worked out using the following rule:
Distance (in kilometres) = Time from observing the flash to hearing thunder
Three second intervals
It is also important to know that where thunder is heard, lightning will be in the vicinity so careful judgement must be used to determine whether a threat exists.
Most experts agree that the determined “safe distance” from lightning is greater than 10 kilometres. That meaning the period of time between observing the flash and hearing the thunder reaches 30 seconds or less, all those in exposed areas should be seeking or already be inside safe shelters.
Once the Extreme Weather policy has been activated, it is then recommended that players wait a minimum of 30 minutes after the last sighting of lightning or last sound of thunder. This figure is based on the observation that a typical storm moves at 40km/h. By waiting 30 minutes, it allows the storm cell to be 20 kilometres away, minimising the likelihood of lightning strikes. It is also important to note that blue skies and lack of rainfall are not adequate reasons to breach the 30/30 safety guidelines.
Ultimately the decision to delay or suspend play as well as resume play will be made by the umpire based on information obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology and discussions with both clubs involved.