High school football teams prepare for severe weather season - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

High school football teams prepare for severe weather season

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -

Region 8 is entering the second severe weather season, which really affects fall sports like football.

That's why on cloudy, rainy days before players hit the field and fans fill the stands, Jonesboro Public Schools make sure its safety plans are ready.

"Living in Arkansas, the weather can change any time," Athletic Director David Daniel said. 

To keep up with the uncertainty, Daniel said the district has safety plans to weather any storm, starting with lightning. 

"The officials on the field will be prepared for that," Daniel said. 

Officials follow specific Arkansas Activities Association guidelines. 

"If we have an eight-mile range of lightning to the ground, we'll get the players, cheerleaders, dancers to safety, ask the fans to clear the bleachers and seek safety," Daniel said. 

Players, coaches, cheerleaders and dancers go back to the dressing rooms and fans seek shelter in their cars.

According to the National Weather Service, Arkansas is a top ten state as far as lightning activity. The state averages about 16 lightning flashes per square mile every year. 

"It's scary, very, very scary," Daniel said. "We don't want to downplay that but the scary thing is the tornadoes when they come."

If severe weather strikes, Jonesboro High School has a more aggressive plan to make sure everyone from the stands to the field stay safe.

"We'll make sure we open Don Riggs Hurricane Gym for people to go in there because that's our best and safest shelter as far as tornadic conditions," Daniel said. 

He said the gym and the indoor, which is almost as long as the football field, should be plenty of space to keep two football teams and their fans safe.

"Hopefully we won't need to deal with that," Daniel said. 

But if the skies change, Jonesboro Public Schools is ready.

"We may get a little soggy but we want to keep everyone as safe as we can," Daniel said. 

Copyright 2014 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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