Festivals, Large or Small, Need a Weather Plan

So far this summer, weather has impacted two large events, both in Europe. The Rock am Ring three-day outdoor concert in Mendig, Germany ended early because of 82 injuries, 15 seriously, from lightning strikes according to the Sydney Morning Herald. That occurred the weekend of June 4th. The Rock am Ring attracted more than 92,000 people. The BBC mentions the festival website did post warnings.

Rock am Ring Aerial. Photo: AP

The BBC also reports that this is the second year in a row with injuries from lightning at the festival. In 2015, 33 people suffered injuries from lightning strikes.

Hosting such a large event creates many logistical issues. One of the biggest issues is not having enough shelter for people. In the aerial view, which is quite impressive, there is a large parking lot. Given enough time, people could move to cars for protection from lightning. This brings up several questions.

What plan do organizers of Rock am Ring have for weather? Do they know their weather threats? Can they monitor those specific threats and what are their warning capabilities? After so many injuries in consecutive years, those are legitimate questions. When you have such a large group exposed, more time is necessary to warn and execute a suspension or evacuation. It looks like there are some procedures missing, if there is a plan. Unfortunately, these are questions likely asked in a court room, in the near future.

Very interesting video came in from the Tour de France. This video appeared on YouTube Wednesday, July 13th, 2016.

The winds were quite strong with hurricane force winds approaching 75 mph forecast during the stage up Mont Ventoux. Tour de France organizers were proactive and amended the race course to avoid the strong winds and cold temperatures, according to The Guardian. The Guardian also mentions that Mont Ventoux has experienced winds of nearly 200 mph. This is an example of an organization having an understanding of weather exposure and how to address a weather issue before exposing people to the threat. By ending the race, before the ascent of Mont Ventoux, the Tour de France not only thought of the safety of the riders but also the avid spectators that line most of the course.

If you assist organizing a festival, large or small, you must be aware of the weather, how to monitor and how to communicate the threat. You also need a plan of action. If you lack any of this, you expose the festival to litigation and issues with your insurance provider.