On the right ‘Trax:’ Lightning detection system provides safer play

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 2, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

In baseball and softball, there is always a guessing game within the game itself.

Some coaches and managers are notorious for making decisions off gut instinct.

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Even the umpires are forced into decisions that stem almost completely from personal judgment -including when to pull players off the field in the case of bad weather.

But thanks to a new weather system at the Dallas County Sportsplex and Selma Softball Complex, the process will literally be pared down to a science.

A system called Weather Linx that detects lightning in the area will help ensure the safety of players, coaches, parents and spectators.

“This takes the guesswork out of what we do,” said Selma Director of Baseball Tracey Williams. “I can stand and look at the clouds all day long. But when we know when lightning is in the area, we can get the kids and coaches off the field.”

The system detects lightning as far as 15 miles away from the field.

If lightning hits the ground between 10 and 15 miles away, an automated caution is issued. If it is between five and 10 miles, there is a warning. If lightning strikes any closer, an alarm will sound.

Williams said the systems are used by courses on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

There is very little maintenance, the system is computer-based and the batteries recharge themselves.

“We’ve used the system twice already,” Williams said. “What we like to do is when the siren goes off, we ask parents over the public address system to go to their cars and wait. There’s a 30-minute timer, and we wait and make sure before play resumes.”