Pinecrest takes measures to protect residents against lightning strikes

There have been six lightning fatalities in Florida this year alone, according to data collected by the National Weather Service, and Pinecrest has taken measures to protect its residents, with most municipal parks now equipped with lightning detection and warning technology.

The Thor Guard devices, which measure electrostatic charges at ground level and in the atmosphere, will sound a 15-second horn and flash an amber-colored strobe when lightning is 97 percent likely to strike within a two-mile radius in the next eight to 20 minutes. Once danger has passed, three five-second horn blasts will sound and the strobe will stop flashing.

The devices are operational during regular park hours and cover Evelyn Greer, Flagler Grove and Suniland parks, as well as the Community Center and Pinecrest Gardens. According to Parks and Recreations director Loren Matthews, a device wasn’t installed at Coral Pine park both because of its proximity to Flagler Grove and because of ongoing renovations, nor at Veterans Wayside since it's a smaller, passive park.

Though expensive — Pinecrest spent about $46,000 to buy and install its lightning meters this year — Thor Guard technology is popular with south Florida municipalities, with devices already installed in neighboring Coral Gables and Palmetto Bay.