Citing examples of both weather tragedies and proactive weather planning, the council of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) has adopted a statement regarding weather safety at venues and public gatherings.
The statement expounds on the need for successful proactive weather decision practices within the broader weather and venue industries. It lists several recent weather tragedies at event venues, including the Indiana State Fair stage collapse in 2011 that resulted in seven fatalities; the collapse of a circus tent in Lancaster, N.H., in 2015 that killed a father and daughter; and the collapse of an event tent in suburban Chicago, also in 2015, that killed one attendee.
Summing up these and other events, the statement reads: “A common theme in the after-action reports and service assessments for these disasters is that the weather plan was inadequate to deal with a comprehensive portfolio of weather risk, or a weather plan didn’t exist. In many instances, organizers simply ‘hoped that we wouldn’t get hit.’
Reducing the weather risk to life and property at venues and public gatherings is a priority for the weather enterprise and the American Meteorological Society. Knowledge of, and investment in, pre-event planning and mitigation serves the nation economically as well as socially.”
The statement also notes a number of success stories, where event producers worked with weather professionals to avert disaster. The AMS says that the common practices during these success stories include:
- Having a professional meteorologist forecast and monitor the weather to proactively support a comprehensive weather plan on behalf of life safety.
- Identifying the appropriate staff at each venue who used basic guidelines set forth in the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Weather Service (NWS) Weather-Ready Nation® and/or StormReady® programs, and implemented the concept of an integrated warning team.
- Having each venue staffed using a decision-tree hierarchy where everyone knew their responsibilities in advance (as well as their backups). There was also a trained professional in charge of maintaining situational awareness and making weather-related decisions before, during and after the event.
- Generating a weather plan in advance with an actionable set of decision triggers against a portfolio of weather risk, with a process to routinely evaluate and update the plan.
- Designating the nearest safe structures and accommodation for ample time for patrons to reach these locations when high-impact weather threatened.
- Creating clear mechanisms for communicating weather risk among all elements of the event (organizers, visitors, participants, local emergency management, etc.) and a mass-communication plan to notify the patrons at risk.
For more, go to www.ametsoc.org.