In the wake of recent weather-related tragedies involving student-athletes in outdoor sports, high schools in Escambia County, Fla., are focusing on a better way to predict hazardous conditions such as extreme temperatures and humidity levels.
Each high school in the Escambia County School District will be using a WeatherSTEM unit to provide Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) metrics, which add information about wind and sun radiation to the traditional heat index, according to NorthEscambia.com.
Escambia County School District athletic director Roger Mayo told reporters, “Using a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature to gauge the heat and humidity is far more accurate because it also considers wind speed and solar radiation.
“However, conditions can change quickly and getting updated readings every half-hour takes the proper equipment and dedicated manpower,” added Mayo. “Many schools around the state do not have the equipment or an extra trained, responsible person to dedicate to this, so athletic directors across Florida are very happy to have weather stations from WeatherSTEM to rely on instead.”
The WeatherSTEM units are solar-powered, with sensors that detect solar and ultraviolet radiation and measure the amount and rate of rainfall and the direction and speed of wind. Data is transmitted to WeatherSTEM, where it is compiled into a WBGT and used to guide coaches and instructors so they can adjust practice schedules or plan for extreme conditions.
Escambia County’s Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said, “The information available to us will reduce the chance of our students experiencing heat stroke by giving us information about increasing water breaks, having ice available or canceling outdoor activities all together.”
“Installing the WeatherSTEM equipment is a great investment, especially if even one student is prevented from experiencing hazardous conditions.”