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Forsyth park athletic facilities get lightning prediction, warning system
Athletic facilities get lightning prediction, warning system

A new device recently installed at athletic facilities in Forsyth County’s public parks is channeling its superhero’s namesake through more than a name. It’s keeping residents safe from bolting strikes of lightning.

The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department added a safety feature called the Thor Guard Weather Warning System at all of the department’s athletic facilities and at Sawnee Mountain Preserve to predict lightning before it strikes.

“The goal of using the system is to maximize safety by providing park staff and volunteers with critical, timely lightning warning information in an easy-to-use format,” said Jodi Gardner, spokeswoman for the county government.

Sensors in the Thor Guard continuously monitor the atmosphere’s electrostatic energy as far away as 15 miles and evaluates the potential for lightning within about a two-mile radius.

When a hazardous condition is discovered, a siren sounds and a strobe light turns on for 15 seconds. When the threat of lightning is over, three five-second blasts are emitted by the siren to signal the area is safe, and the strobe light will turn off.

The system will only be active from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Prior to the recent installments, the county had already been using the system at Joint Venture Park at Daves Creek, Lanierland Park, Matt Community Park at Settingdown Creek and Sharon Springs Park.

“We’ve been using this system at Sharon Springs Park for the past couple years, and it’s proven to be a great tool to alert players and parents when conditions are favorable for a lightning strike,” Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor said.

Now, Bennett Park, Central Park, Coal Mountain Park, Fowler Park, Midway Park, Sawnee Mountain Park and Sawnee Mountain Preserve have the system in place and active, marking all athletic facilities operated by the county being equipped with the device.

“Residents who live near one of these parks may be able to hear the system alerts,” Pryor said. “This system is not intended to be a nuisance, but rather a safety device for our citizens and all of our park users.”

Installation was funded by capital project funds approved in the 2017 budget.