Dealing With Severe Weather

Date: December 12, 2008

This position paper provides basic guidelines for dealing with lightning. You must follow the instructions on this page.

Many stadium operators, park districts, and school districts have acquired and installed advanced technology that can aid the referee in making decisions about weather conditions. If there is any indication that severe weather may occur, check with the appropriate authorities (field or park manager, athletic director, stadium operations personnel, city or county parks or education departments,etc.) for the latest information before making any decisions. Also check with these authorities during any weather-related interruption, as the new technology may allow you to restart earlier than indicated after a stoppage. It is not necessary to wait thirty (30) minutes when this assistance is available.


  • Recognizing the threat
    1. Apply the 30-30 ruleWhen you see lightning, count the time until you hear thunder. If this time is 30 seconds or less, seek proper shelter. If you can’t see the lightning, just hearing the thunder is a good back-up rule. Wait 30 minutes or more after hearing the last thunder before leaving shelter.
    2. Know and heed warning systems and community rules Many communities or park systems have lightning detection and warning systems. Use this information and obey the rules established by the community or park system.
    3. Know and apply the rules or procedures established by the competition authority.
    4. Minimize the risk of being struck.Protect the safety of all participants by stopping game activities quickly, so that participants and spectators may retire to a safer place before the lightning threat becomes significant. Remember, if you can hear the thunder, you are within reach of lightning.
  • Seeking proper shelter
    1. No place outside is safe near thunderstorms
    2. The best shelter is a large, fully enclosed, substantially constructed building. A vehicle with a solid metal roof and metal sides is a reasonable second choice.
  • If there is no proper shelter, avoid the most dangerous locations: Higher elevations; wide open areas, including fields; tall isolated objects, such as trees, poles, or light posts; unprotected open buildings; rain shelters; bus stops; metal fences and metal bleachers.

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