Guidelines for Game Officials and Game Management to Use Regarding Lightning

Information was  taken from the NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook and NCAA Championships Severe Weather Policy

 The purpose of this appendix is to provide information to those responsible for making decisions about suspending and restarting games based on the presence of lightning.


1. National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) staff strongly recommend that all individuals should have left the game site and reached a safe structure or location by the time the person monitoring the weather obtains a flash-to-bang (lightning-to-thunder) count of 30 seconds (equivalent to lightning being six miles away). This recommendation was developed as a practical way to make a judgment in situations where other resources such as technology and instrumentation are not available.


In addition, a smaller, but still real, risk exists with the presence of lightning at greater distances. Unfortunately, current science cannot predict where within the radius the next strike will occur.


2. The existence of blue sky and the absence of rain are not protection from lightning. Lightning can, and does, strike as far as 10 miles away from the rain shaft. It does not have to be raining for lightning to strike.


3. When considering resumption of a game, NSSL staff recommends that everyone ideally should wait at least 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning or sound of thunder before returning to the field of activity.


4. If available, electronic detection devices should be used as additional tools to determine the severity of the weather. However, such devices should not be used as the sole source when considering terminating play.