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WAS THERE ADVANCE WARNING OR NOT?

During a youth soccer game, the sky suddenly went from sunny to cloudy in a matter of moments.  Seconds later one of the soccer players was struck by a bolt of lightning.  He suffered extensive, serious injuries which hospitalized him for more than nine months.  His family sued the soccer league, its referees and the municipality in which the accident took place, since the soccer field was owned by the town.  Their claim was that the league and the referees were negligent in not calling the game off due to dangerous weather conditions.

The attorney representing the soccer league and its referees contacted CompuWeather.  The forensic meteorologist assigned to the case first looked at the observations taken at the two nearby airports which were on either side of the town where the soccer field was located.  He then took a look at localized storm reports and observations taken by co-operative observers of The National Weather Service.  None of these sources indicated that a thunderstorm had taken place.  The meteorologist then went one step further, and examined lightning strike data.  What the data showed was that a true meteorological quirk had taken place.  One single lightning strike, and only one, occurred that evening in the area where the soccer player had been injured.  It was that one bolt of lightning that had struck the player.

Delving deeper into the events leading up to this accident, CompuWeather’s meteorologist examined what had been forecast prior to the evening of the soccer match.  Forecasts issued by The National Weather Service (NWS) the day before the accident took place had indicated the slight chance of a shower during the time period that the soccer game was to take place.  Each subsequent update, up through the last one issued prior to the match, continued to mention that slight chance of a shower but never the possibility of a thunderstorm.

During pre-trial hearings information compiled by CompuWeather lead to the determination that the soccer league, as well as its referees, should not be held liable for damages.  Local forecasts, which league officials check every day, did not indicate the threat of a thundershower or lightning.  In addition, the thundershower which had occurred on that day happened so suddenly that there was no advance warning which could have allowed the referees to halt the match.