Coral Gables Parents Donate Lightning Safety and Early Warning Solution to St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School

Pictured from left to right: WeatherBug - Earth Networks' Frank McCathran; Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez; the Veloso family; Principal Kris Matteson Charlton; and Sean Bergesen, WeatherBug Schools Program representative.
Coral Gables, Florida – Florida is widely considered the lightning capital of the U.S. More than 450 people have been struck and killed over the past 50 years and thousands more have been injured – in some cases seriously – from the long-term debilitating effects of a lightning strike.

To help ensure that no lives are cut short or permanently impacted from lightning strikes in Coral Gables, concerned parents Frank and Christina Veloso donated a state-of-the-art lightning detection sensor, plus a lightning visualization and early warning alerting tool, to St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School.

Parent Frank Veloso decided to donate the WeatherBug lightning and severe weather safety solution to the pre-K through fifth-grade school because he knows from first-hand experience how dangerous lightning is.

In 1991, during my years at Christopher Columbus High School, lightning struck a practice field and killed the assistant football coach at South Miami High School,” says Veloso. “Two other coaches were struck, and a classmate of mine since middle school was seriously injured – but fortunately recovered. In 1975, my first introduction to the tragic results of lightning occurred when a close family friend, Julio Portela, was struck and killed while practicing with his high school football team. Safety must be our number one priority, and I’m both challenging and encouraging individuals, families, corporations, organizations and elected officials to install -- and create legislation to upgrade -- older lightning alerting systems in South Florida with new technology for peace of mind and safety.”

The sensor at St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School will become part of the world’s largest total lightning network. Total lightning is the lightning that hits the ground, as well as the vast majority of lightning that stays in the sky and jumps from cloud-to-cloud. The sensor technology and network were developed by WeatherBug - Earth Networks, a company best known for its popular brand of mobile forecasting and severe weather alerting apps.

The total lightning sensor installed on the school’s rooftop can detect and then trigger alerts to lightning that enters an unsafe range of the school. Lightning alerts are issued using a web-based tracking and alerting solution to help keep students, teachers and staff safer. What’s more, smartphone users can view the Spark lightning feature on the WeatherBug mobile app for Android and iPhone to actually see how far away the nearest lightning is and take action to help stay safe.

"Public awareness has gone a long way toward protecting people and saving lives, and we are pleased that modern technology is also playing a part by informing users of lightning in their area – more accurately and precisely than ever before,” says Frank McCathran, Director, Enterprise Solutions, WeatherBug - Earth Networks. “Southern Florida receives more lightning than any other area in the continental U.S., and we are proud to have developed lightning alerting technology that is being used in and around Miami and throughout the greater South Florida region to help keep students safer when severe weather threatens – and provide school decision makers with increased peace of mind.”


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