Last summer, Ortley Beach became one of several local communities to install lightning detection systems following the tragic death of a lifeguard in South Seaside Park as a thunderstorm approached.
While the system has been active for about a year, many people may not have heard what the alarm sounds like. On Wednesday, two storm cells passed on either side of the area on their way out to sea – one to the north in Monmouth County and one in southern Ocean County. The detection equipment uses a built-in array, plus radar information, to judge the position of strikes. While the system can detect lighting between 20 and 25 miles away, most systems activate their alarms when a strike is detected within five miles. A video of the system alarm sounding is embedded above. (Note: some browser ad blockers may prevent the video from loading.)
Toms River operates two detection systems – one at each of its lifeguard houses. The systems are networked together, and this year, Lavallette chose to purchase the same model as Toms River so the network could be extended northward. Brick Township also operates two lightning detection systems, however they are made by a different manufacturer. Still, Toms River officials say resident of the Normandy Beach neighborhood are covered within the sound radius of the southernmost Brick system, which is set up at Brick Beach III. Likewise, the Lavallette system should cover some portions of Toms River’s private beaches north of town.
While Thursday is forecast to be sunny, local residents might hear the alarm on Friday, when thunderstorms are forecast by the National Weather Service to move through after 11 a.m., with the threat continuing into the afternoon.