Collier County installs lightning alert systems on Marco Island

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: Thorguardian system installed at Caxambas Beach on Marco Island. Credit: WINK News.

Florida is the lightning capital of the country, and communities want to make sure people are safe.

Hours before storms arrived on Marco Island Thursday, Collier County crews installed technology that would warn locals to lightning strikes that come too close.

The devices are developed by Thor Guard Inc. The system, aptly named “Thorguardian,” monitors the atmosphere’s electrostatic energy and finds potential for lightning within two miles. When you hear a 15-second blast of the horn, that means get to a safe place.

Homeowners nearby say you won’t miss it when it goes off.

“I went down to the park, and it went off here the other day, and we had absolutely no idea what it was,” said John Hennley on Marco Island.

It’s not someone beeping their car horn at you. That sound is a warning. So, when storms roll through Southwest Florida, you will know.

“You would no doubt hear it,” Hennley said.

And it’s a good thing you can because people such as Maria McCabe knows someone who learned the hard way.

“I have a friend who has been struck by lightning three times,” McCabe said.

Collier County placed the Thorguardian systems at Caxambas Park and another at the south beach. The two of them cost more than $37,000.

And islanders say that was money well spent.

“I can see an alligator coming, but lightening sneaks up on ya,” Micheal Person said. “The protection of people from something that you can’t know till it’s too late is an excellent idea.”

When you hear three 5-second blasts and the light stops flashing, it’s safe to be outside again.

“People do get hit, so it’s a good thing to be warned,” McCabe said.

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