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New lightning warning areas

The 45th Space Wing is scheduled to roll out an innovative new lightning warning process May 15. The new lightning warning areas are shown in the photo illustration. (U.S. Air Force graphic illustration)

The 45th Space Wing is scheduled to roll out an innovative new lightning warning process May 15. The new lightning warning areas are shown in the photo illustration. Download is HiRes for better visibility. (U.S. Air Force graphic illustration)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATIION, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing is scheduled to roll out an innovative new lightning warning process May 15. The new warning areas optimize the balance between personnel safety, operational downtime, and resource protection for Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Kennedy Space Center.

The new warnings will not individually list each facility being warned, so you need to know which lightning warning area applies to your workplace.

The old process used 13 lightning warning circles at CCAFS, KSC, Patrick Air Force Base, and nearby support facilities. Each centered on points with a significant number of people spending a significant amount of time outdoors exposed to the threat of lightning.

Unfortunately, several of the circles overlapped significantly, dramatically complicating the process, and making it difficult to issue and cancel lightning watches and warnings expeditiously.

The new process reduces the number of lightning warning areas from 13 to 10, decreasing the amount of overlap. The streamlined process leads to improved lightning warnings by allowing the 45th Weather Squadron forecasters more time to focus on the weather, rather than managing the warning process.

Additionally, the public address announcements heard via the aural warning system communicates warnings more clearly with a single name for the lightning warning area, rather than listing all the facilities in the area.

For example, instead of hearing: "A Phase II lightning warning has been issued for the following areas: Complex 17, EPF, FSA1, MSA3, Complex 36/46, Area 59, Skid Strip", you will hear, "A Phase II lightning warning has been issued for Cape Central."