Ballpark Lightning Strike: 70,000 Amps for 43,268 Spectators

A CG (cloud-to-ground) lightning strike blasted through the dry air last night at the Ballpark in Arlington — disturbingly close to an official attendance of 43,268 fans, along with starting players and umpires on the field.

How close? According to several news reports, “Rangers officials said the lightning struck north of stadium and didn’t hit the facility.” Not so fast. There are some indications it actually hit the stadium, not nearby. My experience with such flash-bang timing, as a storm chaser, is that the bolt was (at most) a few hundred feet from the sound-recording equipment used in the videos. That’s either on some part of the stadium, or within a block…way too close for comfort or safety.

Thunderstorms were located ENE of the Ballpark, moving WSW. Act of God? Absolutely not–because it was *predictable*. Thunder was in the forecast and was heard already in the third inning. It doesn’t matter a bit that rain wasn’t falling. The fact that lightning can occur many miles from the rain should be well-known to any meteorologist, either on staff or hired as a contractor/consultant. And if the team or facility doesn’t have one…they need to hire one.

Fans were alerted to the possibility of storms in the area? Good, but not good enough. The game still went on, and storms were moving right toward the facility. The rationale for continuing to expose players and fans to this hazard by continuing the game past the third, when it was obvious to anyone looking at a radar display that storms were just a couple miles away and directly closing in, was what, exactly? No excuses for this. None!

Only unadulterated, blind luck prevented that strike from hitting inside the stadium–an estimated 70,000 amps of electricity potentially coursing through numerous closely packed people and causing multiple casualties, not to mention the mother of all liability risks.



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