In late August 2021 year, a quick, strong summer late afternoon storm suddenly hit the small section of South Seaside Park where Berkeley Township employees lifeguards. Caught unprepared, lifeguards and swimmers were still at the beach.
Lightning struck the lifeguard stand and killed lifeguard Keith Pinto, a 19-year-old from Toms River. Seven others, including three other lifeguards, were injured.
Like Ortley Beach and Brick Beaches I and III to the north, Berkeley Township officials have installed or ordered a lightning detection system. Berkeley Township system is fully functional as of today, June 21. The other beaches hope to have their systems operating by 4th of July weekend.
How the Strike Guard Lightning Detection System works.
According to Berkeley Township, Strike Guard is a system that detects lighting at 20 miles from the sensor and sounds an alarm when lightning is 5 miles away from the sensor. However, the system doesn't predict if lightning will strike.
According to the company, it is a fully automated and standalone system that doesn't rely on the Internet but rather "sees" and "feels” the lightning discharge. It can set off audible horn noise or flash strobes to remote locations to warn when lightning is in the area.
At the first sign of lighting within five miles, the horns will sound for 15 seconds and the strobe will begin to flash. After 30 minutes from the last lightning strike within fiuve miles, the system will trigger the ALL CLEAR, and the horns will sound with a foghorn sound and the strobe will turn off.
Enjoy your best summer yet at the Jersey Shore with the #1 NJ Guide
Get the scoop on seafood, salt water taffy and ice cream joints. Plus discover quiet beaches, historic sites and outdoor adventures with 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die.
Internet but rather "sees" and "feels” the lightning discharge. It can set off audible horn noise or flash strobes to remote locations to warn when lightning is in the area.
At the first sign of lighting within five miles, the horns will sound for 15 seconds and the strobe will begin to flash. After 30 minutes from the last lightning strike within five miles, the system will trigger the ALL CLEAR, and the horns will sound with a foghorn sound and the strobe will turn off.
Beyond Berkeley Township, who can hear the siren?
Berkeley Township's beachfront once stretched from Toms Rivers Township/Ortley Beach to the Barnegat Inlet. Over time, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park broke away to form their own governments, and the state created Island Beach State Park. These "subtractions" to the township left an unincorporated area which is informally know as South Seaside Park.
Berkeley Township's public beach is separate from the private Midway Beach -- located in the township -- and from two private beaches operated by Island Beach Motor lodge and Kings Gate Condo Association. The Township Director of Recreation Mark Dykoff said that he understands that Midway will purchase their own lightning detection system. The Berkeley siren may be heard on the southern portion of Midway Beach and the northern tip of Island Beach State Park. However, the manufacturer advised the township that the siren will probably not be heard clearly in the designated swimming area of the state park which several miles from the park entrance.
Dykoff said that the township will provide a radio to Midway, the motor lodge and the state park so they can be in immediate contact in the event of an emergency.
Tips for Visiting Berkeley Township's South Seaside Park
What's New: See above about lightning detection system.
Access and Parking: The easiest route to South Seaside Park is via Route 37 from Exit 82 of the Garden State Parkway and then south along Route 35. Look for sign reading "Twp of Berkeley." Parking is not permitted at Midway Beach without a permit. Parking is free in most of Seaside Park south of 20th Avenue.
Beaches: The township's beach is between 20th and 23rd Avenues (the border with Island Beach State Park). Beach badges are required for access to all beaches weekends starting Memorial Day Weekend and then daily from June 19 to Labor Day. Full season badges are $50; weekly badges are $25. For people 65 years old or over, a seasonal beach badge is $15 and a senior lifetime badge is $20. Daily badges are $10. There is no cost for people 11 years of age and under.
Bear in mind a person need only walk south of 24th Avenue into Island Beach State Park where the beach is free.
Midway Beach between 3rd Lane and 20th Avenue is a private beach. A separate beach badge is required for this part of the beach. Full season badges are $65 for people 12 to 64 years old and $20 for people 65 and older from June 19 to Labor Day. There are no weekly or daily badges available.
Follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he recounts his 2021 walk of every beach along the 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Read all updated stories at www.JerseyShoreWalk.com.