June 3, 2019 -- As many of Atlantic Beach residents learned first-hand this week, the City of Atlantic Beach’s lightning prediction system is up and running.
The system is designed to alert residents and visitors on and near the beach that lightning is imminent in the area. Sirens are installed at the beach at Sixth and 16th Streets, and at Adele Grage Cultural Center.
Already, some Atlantic Beach residents are saying that the system is being activated too frequently, and some are complaining about the sirens’ volume. The City invites residents to share any feedback by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 247-5804.
How it works
Manufactured and sold by Thor Guard, the lightning prediction system is designed to alert residents through a loud horn before lightning happens.
Based on static buildup in the atmosphere, which Thor Guard measures, when the voltage or charge levels begin to neutralize, the system alerts residents when a lightning strike is predicted within 2.5 miles – typically 10 to 15 minutes before it happens.
The system initially sends out a 15-second horn blast. A bright strobe light that can be seen in daylight also is activated and continue flashing during the alert.
An all-clear will sound when the danger is past. That’s when the horn activates with three short blasts, each for 5 seconds.
Q. When did the system become operational?
A. May 31
Q. Did recent lightning strikes influence the City’s decision to install a lightning-prediction system?
A. Yes. The most recent was last year: https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/lightning-hospitalizes-2-men-sparks-house-fire-in-atlantic-beach-florida/70005195
Q. Will the system wake people overnight?
A. No. It is only operational between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Q. Is this a temporary project or is it permanent?
A. It’s intended to be permanent. The primary coverage area is the area along and near the beach. It is anticipated that the system will be expanded westward, perhaps in the upcoming 2019-20 fiscal year, to cover Russell Park. Meanwhile, please note that Atlantic Beach Country Club also recently installed a lightning prediction system; our systems complement each other.
Q. Are you able to change the direction and/or volume of the sirens?
A. Some adjustments can be made. We would like for residents to contact us (at email@example.com or 247-5804) with their feedback.
Q. What was the cost of this system, and how was that funded?
The system cost $26,275; $25,000 of which came from our tourist development fund.
Q. Is there a recurring cost?
A. Yes. There is a $725 annual maintenance cost.
Q. Where can I get more info?
Thor Guard presentation to the Atlantic Beach City Commission
Thor Guard presentation to the Atlantic Beach City Commission (abbreviated)