Marco’s Beach and Coastal Resources Advisory Committee (BACR) has been working on the Thor Lightning Warning System project with the County’s Parks and Recreation Department since March 2017. This area of the beach receives the most visitors during the summer months. Then Hurricane Irma happened, and Country funds were re-directed to more urgent matters.
In March 2018, the office of Barry Williams, Director of Collier County’s Parks & Recreation, confirmed that BACR’s request for a Thor Lightning Warning system is back on the table for consideration and he was hoping to include it with the County’s FYI 2019 budget. Unfortunately, it did not happen.
In June 2019, the BACR’s funding request was approved as an “out of cycle” Tourist Development Council (TDC) funding. Williams confirmed that they have an install schedule for November 2019 for 2 Thor Lightning Warning System for placement at South Beach and Tigertail Beach.
Sites have been selected for both locations and will be ready in plenty of time for the summer months.
So, what is a Thor Guard Lightning Warning System? According to the City website, these are “prediction based” systems as opposed to lightning “detection” systems. The system predicts when there is a high probability of lightning in the two-mile radius of the main unit located at City Hall. The system is active 7 days a week from 8 AM to 9 PM.
If the system predicts a high probability of lightning within the designated radius, a one-time 15-second blast of the system’s siren will sound and a “Red Alert” flashing strobe will light. If you hear/see this siren, seek shelter immediately.
“All Clear” = Three short sirens (5 seconds each) and no strobe light.
The City of Marco Island has installed a Thor Guard Lightning warning system at City Hall, Mackle Park and Winterberry Park. The main sensor alerting station is located on the roof of City Hall. There are two remote stations at Mackle Park (the first located at the far end of the athletic fields and second located at the far end of the lake on the walking path near the water treatment plant that can be seen from the dog park). The last remote station is at Winterberry Park on the roof of the bathrooms.
Thor Guard Lightning Warning Systems are also located at Residents Beach, the Island Country Club and Hideaway Beach. At present, there are no Lightning Warning Systems at South Beach and Tigertail Beach. BACR is hoping the systems proposed for South Beach and Tigertail Beach will be installed in time for the summer lighting season.