Lightning prediction systems protect local ballplayers

"Lightning Predictor" at CYO Athletic Complex

Afternoon thunderstorms are just another sign of the season, but a single strike of lightning can be dangerous and even deadly.

Ballparks, water, and open areas can be especially hazardous, and with more youth hitting the pools and the baseball during the next few months, some organizations have taken extra precautions to ensure their safety.

Catholic Youth Organization Athletic Director Jeff Mielcarek says the CYO complex uses a "lightning predictor" - located on top of their complex pavilion. The device doesn't wait for lightning to strike, instead it relies on the atmospheric conditions to determine if lightning is even possible within a five to eight mile radius.

"If the elements are right for lightning, the predictor goes off with one big blast, and at that point, we ask everyone to leave the complex and return to their cars , and we cancel those games at that point," said Mielcarek.

The complex, which holds hundreds - even thousands - of players and fans during peak summer months has been evacuated numerous times due to the lightning predictor. Mielcarek says although the policy can sometimes come as an annoyance to those who want to play, there's no price tag to the lives the device may have saved.

So far this year, the National Weather Service has not reported any lightning fatalities in Michigan or Ohio. Between 2003-2012, NWS reports Ohio and Michigan were the ninth and 18th most dangerous lightning states, respectively.