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Lightning to halt Mirror Lake jump?

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With students preparing for Tuesday night’s Mirror Lake jump 2011, the forecast might put a halt to the tradition.

Traditionally, students jump into Mirror Lake the week before the football game between Ohio State and Michigan, a rivalry that has been called the greatest in all of sports.

This year, the jump is on a Tuesday, just like it was last year, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Before last year’s Tuesday jump, the tradition was for it to be on a Thursday.

The forecast for Tuesday evening is a low of 51 degrees with a 70 percent chance of precipitation, according to weather.com. High wind and lightning is expected for the campus area.

Bob Armstrong, director of Emergency Management & Fire Prevention from the OSU Department of Public Safety, said he does not know what to expect for a turn out because of the weather.

“I can’t remember the last time we had 60-some-odd degrees and thunderstorms at the end of November for a Mirror Lake jump,” Armstrong said. “I don’t know that there is a precedent that we can apply for this.”

Armstrong said if lightning is spotted close to Mirror Lake, Public Safety will evacuate the lake.

“If we identify any lightning within a 10-mile radius of Mirror Lake, we are going to ask people to leave the lake, because it’s not safe to be in a body of water with lightning close,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said they would temporarily evacuate Mirror Lake until the lightning passes.

“We’re going to have people leave the lake until the lightning and the storms pass by, and we’ll open everything up again,” Armstrong said.

Ryan Bone, a third-year in computer science, said he is not sure if he is going to jump this year.

“It sounds fun and entertaining,” Bone said. “I’m sure (if I go) it will be an experience I’ve never had before.”

Bone said it is important to have medical services and police present to ensure student safety.

“It’s good to have the EMS and police there when people are going to be drunk and stupid at 1 a.m.,” Bone said.

Armstrong said that in addition to OSU Public Safety being present, other agencies would be assisting. He did not, however, have a full list of assisting agencies.

Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life, sent an email on Friday telling students not to jump in Mirror Lake.

“The Mirror Lake jump is not a university-sponsored event, and it is definitely a high-risk activity. My best advice is that you not participate,” Adams-Gaston wrote.

Adams-Gaston did, however, acknowledge that students were still going to jump.

“I recognize, however, that some of you are not going to take that advice,” she said. “No diving or pushing, beware of hypothermia, travel in a group and look out for each other, know that alcohol intake greatly increases risks of injury.”

Adams-Gaston said that several members of Student Life, police officers and medical staff would be on scene for the event. She also added that they would be putting lights in the area to reduce the risk of injury.

Armstrong offered his own advice to students wanting to jump in Mirror Lake on Tuesday.

“Be safe. Be careful. The amount of alcohol that you drink can sometimes impair your judgment,” Armstrong said. “While it may be fun, it can sometimes get you into trouble. Make sure you are not going alone.”

Nadia Chan, a second-year in electrical engineering, said she was planning to jump this year, although she acknowledged that there are risks associated with jumping.

“It’s dangerous when people are really drunk, they could fall and hit their head,” Chan said.

But Chan said when it came down to it, jumping in Mirror Lake is something she will continue to do.

“I jumped last year and will probably jump all four years, it’s tradition,” Chan said.

Jenelle Cooper contributed to this story.

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