Donaldsonville, La. — With the prevalence of storm activity and the continuation of hurricane season, Ascension Public Schools is taking action to protect students from dangerous weather. This week, Ascension installed seven lightning detection units at its high school practice and game facilities, as well as equipped middle and high school key staff with a sophisticated weather app to protect students and the community during outdoor activities.
According to the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), Louisiana and Florida have the highest density of lightning strikes in the United States. Louisiana had 1.1 million flashes in 2017, and Ascension Parish ranges between 20 to 28 flashes per square mile each year.
“We are proud to offer this new safety measure for our students and the community,” said Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander. “We are grateful and acknowledge the work of so many who teamed up to acquire, implement, and ultimately serve our schools to access this safety resource. A special thanks to our Supervisor of Maintenance Jeff Parent for his leadership on this project.”
This summer, the Ascension Parish School Board entered into a contract with Perry Weather after a rigorous Request for Proposals (RFP) process for a weather alert system. The Perry Weather Outdoor Warning system is powered by both cellular data and solar energy to detect lightning within a 30-mile radius, eliminating the possibility of losing power or signal during a storm. The units are equipped with both siren and strobe notifications when lightning is detected.
Outdoor Warning Systems are installed at the following locations:
- Donaldsonville High School Campus Athletic Fields
- Donaldsonville High School Game Facility, Boutte Stadium
- Dutchtown High School Campus Athletic Fields and Stadium
- East Ascension High School Campus Athletic Fields
- East Ascension High School Game Facility, Spartan Stadium
- St. Amant High School Campus Athletic Fields
- St. Amant High School Game Facility, The Pit Stadium
The Perry Weather System will give one 15-second notification blast when lightning strikes within 8 miles. Upon hearing the blast, individuals should immediately stop current activities and seek appropriate shelter. After the initial blast, a yellow strobe light on top of the system will flash until safe conditions return. After the area is clear for 30 minutes from the last strike, the system will provide an “all clear” by giving three 5-second blasts. Regular activities may resume at that time.
LIGHTNING NOTIFICATION APP
Ascension’s contract with Perry Weather additionally provides the Pocket Perry Platform, a cloud-based real-time weather and lightning notification tool that syncs to the outdoor warning system to provide school and district staff with real time updates, alerts, and remote manual triggering, if needed. Although the middle schools are not equipped with the Outdoor Warning System, all athletic directors, coaches and principals have the Pocket Perry Platform that will alert them to any threats, which will be communicated using the school’s public announcement system.
According to new guidelines for Lightning Safety Standards, Ascension Public Schools will adhere to the following alert protocols:
- WATCH: Lightning strike between 10-30 mile radius
- WARNING: Lightning strike between 8-10 mile radius
- ACTION (Seek Shelter): Lightning strike between 0-8 miles