Lightning Strikes & Marching Band

The University High School Marching Band of Orlando, FL plays their halftime show while lightning strikes a tree just outside the stadium. Within 25 seconds the drum major cuts off the band and calls the band off the field as the stadium empties.

It’s not safe for anybody to be outside during a storm where lightning is present. Sometimes lightning occurs without warning. At times it can even appear to come out of nowhere which is what seems to happen in this video. What’s a band supposed to do when lightning happens?

According to the Florida Music Education Association, this is the primary guideline for student safety when it comes to lightning and outdoor activities:

“It is non-negotiable that the band director must move all students and adults to a safe shelter if the “flash to bang” ratio is 30 seconds or less. Use the school’s lightning detector (obtain from athletic department at your school). You may also use cell phones for weather warnings. If lightning is within six miles, you must evacuate.”

Lightning Detectors

The National Weather Service lists these tips if you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby (italics added by MBIA):

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks (this includes stadium bleachers!)
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree (look for a clump of trees with taller trees in the middle)
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

Video credit: Allison King – Videoed by her father in the stands.

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