Birmingham Office Provides Key Decision Support Services
On any given football game day, Auburn University becomes the fifth largest city in Alabama as Jordan Hare Stadium holds over 87,000 people. As a result, any severe weather event can place the fans and visitors in a dangerous situation. On Saturday, September 19, West Virginia was scheduled to play football at Auburn University. The weather forecast showed the increasing possibility of strong to severe thunderstorms in the Auburn area around the scheduled kickoff time of 6:45 p.m. Due to the urgent threat to public safety, Lead Forecaster Ken Lorek directly informed Chance Corbett of Auburn University Emergency Management of the impending danger at the stadium.
According to Corbett, "With storms approaching the stadium close to kick-off time, Ken confirmed our radar observations and took it a step further. Ken said that he was sure that lightning would come directly over Auburn University, but, even if it didn't, we were going to see a rain like no other. He said the rain would come down hard and in large amounts and that high winds would accompany it. Based on Ken's decision support service, the decision was then made to postpone the game due to lightning. We took over the stadium public address system and asked the spectators to seek shelter due to approaching severe storms and lightning."
"This was a critical decision, as never in the history of Auburn University football (over 100 years) has a game been postponed or an announcement made directing fans to seek shelter due to weather. Our game day control team was prepared to make such announcements but needed to make sure that the information we were receiving was timely and accurate."
"The rain and the lightning came almost to the minute that Ken told us it would. The rain entered the stadium from the south and soon began to fall so heavily that it was hard to see the stands across the field. Lightning began to strike all around the stadium and appeared to be very close. We made the right decision and the help we received from your office was invaluable. We are proud to say that we had no reports of people that were injured due to the severe weather incident."
Due to accurate information from the Birmingham Office and trust from Emergency Management, another decision was made once again to postpone the kickoff of a game due to lightning just seven days later.
Corbett stated, "I can't express to you how much we appreciate the support that we received from the Birmingham office and continue to receive every day. As one of the most recent recipients of the designation, StormReady® University, I can say that we are very serious about severe weather preparedness at Auburn University."
According to Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist-in-Charge, "These types of decision support efforts are keeping our office on the forefront of relevancy and service to our many customers across central Alabama."