The storm that delayed the start of a mid-June Bowie Baysox game was so fierce it was difficult even to see the playing field from the stands. As the downpour continued, however, team officials began assuring nonbelievers in the press box the game would start in about one hour.
Their forecast proved correct, thanks to a Data Transmission Network program head groundskeeper Al Capitos runs on a laptop computer in his office, just a few steps from the right field foul pole at Prince George's Stadium. The DTN, which has a direct satellite link, allows Capitos to see what storms may be coming or how fast they'll be leaving.
The DTN produces an image that looks much like the computerized maps depicting high-pressure and low-pressure systems on The Weather Channel. It is updated every 15 minutes.
"When you know that rain's coming, you can get some things done," Capitos said, adding he's in constant contact with the team when it comes to all matters meteorological. "We can get prepared for rain or [anything]. We can get the troops mobilized."
The DTN lets Capitos zoom in on Prince George's County to give him a better idea of storms that are coming. He can see fronts heading toward the area all the way from West Virginia and track them. In addition, Capitos often can nail down a storm's arrival or departure time within 20 to 30 minutes.
"This is our number one tool," Capitos said. "It's a nice tool."
It's also a fun tool. Most people are fascinated by the DTN, especially Bowie players and staff. Capitos said Manager Joe Ferguson often will come into his office to look at the screen during delays, and other players often stop by at different times.
"We have a hard time keeping the players out of the office," Capitos said with a laugh.
CAPTION: Groundskeeper Al Capitos gets a heads-up on weather forecast via Data Transmission Network program.