WCSA Weather Policy, Proposal 8/8/22

I recommend the Board consider spending an estimated $2,000 as part of an update of its weather policy.

WCSA’s weather policy was adopted in 2013 and updated in 2016. You can find it here.

The policy is still good.

But since 2016:

  • The office staff turned over. Office staff interprets and enforces the policy. MKA and I were peas and carrots during storms, but MKA retired.
  • Technology improved.
  • The Board is different and may want to reassess/reevaluate.

Proposal #1. Purchase & Install Two Tempest Weather Stations.

Benefit: Heat Stress Monitoring

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is a number rolling off its own scale that determines when it’s too hot to continue normal play. WBGT is …

  • the new “heat index”
  • used by US Soccer
  • recommended by the Korey Stringer Institute
  • uses onsite (!) temp, dewpoint (humidity), wind, and solar radiation. Heat index only measures the first two and can “run hot” on windy and/or cloudy days.

WCSA has been using my professional grade Kestrel Heat Stress Thermometer + Tripod to measure onsite WBGT. This has been fine, but:

  • It requires a WCSA employee to use and operate it.
  • Your current staff may have no idea where it is, or what it does.
  • You have to set it up properly, go out to the device and read it after it has been out there 5-15 minutes, and interpret the data correctly. There are many fail points. Usually, I’m out there doing it myself when I’m in town, which is not always.
  • The only reading you get is when you put eyes on it. It is not WiFi enabled.
  • It stays locked in the office safe so in practice it is only in use on the east side. As you know, wind varies substantially east vs west.

A Tempest is a fixed position, WiFi device, with an app and web interface. It reads just about everything, including WBGT.

Tempest benefits:

  • No setup, no tripod, no taking a staff member away from other issues. One time installation.
  • The data is available on the app and on any browser, here’s the page for my Tempest at my house.
  • You can see more than one reading, eliminating errors when observing outliers.
  • Install two, east and west sides. We all know wind varies on the west side.

Benefit: Lightning Proximity Detection

Our policy is what the SEC and pretty much every responsible organization uses.

Currently, we use the computer in the office to determine lightning proximity.

  • Sophisticated weather software and an annual subscription with “range rings.”
  • This is locked up on the east side and is no help when the office is closed or when we only have west side games.
  • Requires correct interpretation.

The Tempest sends alerts on the app (and on its web page) when lightning is within 25 miles. It says how far away it is. An alert should either cause a crash/delay of games (if lightning is within 8 miles) and/or prompt the decisionmaker to consult his/her radar app to determine whether to put games in a holding pattern or just cancel them altogether.

(Proposal #2. Purchase the RadarScope app and get the Pro Tier One subscription)

  • Please do not use a free commercial app.
  • Those apps suck.
  • Seriously, they are bad.
  • I can train your entire staff how to use it. It’s very easy.
  • App is $10. Pro Tier One subscription is $9.99/year.

Properly executed lightning policy will cause fewer cancellations. If you leave it to the referees entirely (a separate discussion) they’ll call games when there is lightning seen 25+ miles away. (Our policy is 12 miles with storm moving toward the Complex, or 8 miles no matter what).

Tempest Benefit: Rainout Data Mining

Tempest uses haptic tech to determine how much rain has fallen. No gauges to empty!

It tracks rainfall during the life of the device.

You can track data to determine how much rain needs to fall to cause cancellations. Give it a few seasons and we’ll be able to determine likelihood of future cancellations for communication, planning, and “other” purposes.

Tempest Benefit: Cold Weather

It’s not in the policy but in the past we’ve delayed 8 AM games when the temp was under 40°. Now, you’ll have data!

Tempest Concerns/Challenges

  • A stable WiFi connection is required. This is my main concern. You’ll need reliable internet at both sides.
  • Security/Placement. Avoid errant soccer balls, but have it placed on a grass site. (This is why I think we need two).
  • I think you should budget $2,000 for this (order three, keep one in reserve). Cost will run $329/unit + tax + shipping depending on what you want. Will probably want to install a mount for it, you want the WBGT on the grass, not the concrete. No annual/recurring fees.

Proposal #3. Revisit the Policy

Has anyone in the office read the policy, or know where it is? Is it even being followed?

Are y’all still cool with this?

Referee discretion to call games? Should referees suspend and investigate, or do you empower them to cancel? This is the current policy:

Are lightning and heat safety protocols being followed?

Do you want to communicate differently? The policy currently requires specific language to be sent out via: “@WCSAInfo, the WCSA Facebook page, the WCSA website, and disseminated via Rained-Out.” Is this still the move?

Let’s talk about it. I’ll make revisions and submit to the Board for approval.