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Lightning Policy by Sean2014-07-08 17:32:50


I noticed a common complaint about the park is the fact that the rides close down whenever there is lightning within a certain radius of the park. The radius cited by guests varies guests says it's 25 miles, another says it's 15 miles, while yet another says it's 10 miles. The park doesn't say on its website how far lightning has to be before the rides close down, however; I think anything over 10 miles is overdoing it.

Here's some interesting lightning information provided by Ron Holle, research meteorologist, NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Okla., Aug. 23, 1999):

"A person can tell the distance to lightning by the flash-to-bang method. When you see a lightning flash, count the number of seconds until its thunder can be heard. Sounds travels one mile every 5 seconds. We recommend 30 seconds (6 miles) as a reasonably safe distance when an activity should be stopped and a safe location should have been reached.

The typical lightning threat lasts less than an hour. So, instead of leaving the park for the day, it would seem reasonable to wait in the car or another lightning-safe place until the thunderstorm has passed, then return to the park.

We recommend a 30-minute wait after the last flash or thunder. The two together provide the basis for the '30-30 rule'. The first 30 is for the 30-second flash-to-bang time when a safe place should have been reached. The other 30 is for the 30 minutes' wait after the last lightning or thunder.

ALL cloud-to-ground lightning flashes originate in clouds whose tops are at temperatures colder than freezing. In the summer, this level is about 15,000 to 25,000 feet above sea level across the U.S.

The flash moves toward ground by a sequence of very faint step leaders that are about 50 yards long. At the bottom of each step leader, the flash looks outward and downward for about 50 yards for something to strike. If it finds nothing, it travels toward the ground in another 50-yard step leader, looks for a connection, finds none, puts out another step leader, and so on.

When the flash is about 30 to 50 yards above the surface, it decides what to hit. When it attaches to an object on the surface, or open water or ground, the current then travels back up the channel and produces the extremely bright light that we see."
re: Lightning Policy by Sean2014-07-08 18:13:08


I found some updated information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that says they no longer recommend the 30/30 rule. Instead, they recommend seeking shelter at the first sound of thunder. The general rule is if you can hear thunder, you're within striking distance of the storm. People are able to hear thunder from about 10 miles away provided there isn't too much background noise that would muffle the sound.
re: Lightning Policy by Greg2014-07-08 19:55:47

Winter Haven, Florida

Master Botanist
1451 Posts
They are extremely touchy about it. It could be a clear sky and if they even think there's going to be lightening they close everything down for 30 minute increments.

Considering the frequency of the rain in the summer after 3pm, I find it's best to get to the park early and then go home when they call it the first time.
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re: Lightning Policy by Sean2014-07-09 16:54:01


Since the park is currently open until 7:00 pm, I would recommend guests first find out the extent of any thunderstorms in the area before calling it a day at 3:00 pm (unless, of course, you've already seen everything by that time and are ready to leave). Many thunderstorms are isolated and will be over in less than an hour; still leaving plenty of time for guests to enjoy the park during the extended summer hours.

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