National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
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Preparation Should Hazardous Weather Threaten Your Outdoor Event

Whether it is sporting events, concerts, or festivals, outdoor events are all impacted by the weather. When hazardous weather approaches it can put the lives of hundreds of people in jeopardy. Being prepared for hazardous weather at outdoor events is essential. Large hail, damaging winds, lightning, flash floods, and tornadoes are all weather hazards that kill hundreds of people every year. To keep attendees, fans, athletes, and employees as safe as possible, event organizers need to be weather ready. What can you do to prepare?

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  • Establish a Safety Officer — Oversees the safety of your patrons and staff members during the event. Contacts your local Emergency Management Office for assistance.
  • Plan to Monitor the Weather — Your safety officer will need to keep close tabs on the weather. Stay in close contact with your local National Weather Service Forecast Office.
  • Define Ways to Communicate — If hazardous weather threatens your event, how will you communicate with your patrons? Utilize signs, electronic message boards, PA announcements, or social media to get the word out.
  • Identify Shelter Locations — Where will people go to seek shelter in the event hazard-ous weather threatens? You must establish shelter locations before your event and have them well marked.
  • Know When to Seek Shelter — How much advanced notice do your patrons need to get to the shelter safely? If you wait too long, they may be at risk from lightning, fly-ing debris, or falling structures.
  • What Would Cause You to Postpone or Cancel Your Event? — Ensure you have identi-fied all the hazards that could threaten your venue and thresholds for each hazard. Know the wind limits of your tents, stages, and portable buildings.
  • Practice Your Plan — This will ensure you are ready when the time comes.

The brochure and checklist (link on left) will help you develop a basic plan for your outdoor venue.

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  • Check the forecast BEFORE you go out
  • Check the Hazardous Weather Outlook
  • Stay up-to-date on current conditions
  • NOAA Weather Radio
  • NWS Website:
  • Call the local NWS office
  • Local media
  • Click on the map at a location near you for your local weather and forecast.
  • Office phone numbers are located at the bottom of your local office's home page.
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Be prepared to postpone your event and shelter your spectators if hazardous weather threatens your outdoor venue! At this point, it is critical to know what locations can be used as a shelter, and how your spectators will get there. Have a means to notify attendees should severe weather threaten. Do not wait until the last minute; give plenty of time for people to reach a safe destination.

Severe Weather Safety:

During a severe thunderstorm or tornado, the safest place to be is an underground shelter or basement. Small windowless interior rooms or hallways on the lowest level of a sturdy building are the best alternatives. Portable buildings are NOT safe during tornadoes. For more information on Severe Weather Safety check this link.

Lightning is Deadly:

If you can hear thunder, you are in range of being struck by lightning. At this point you will want to immediately postpone your event and move people indoors or to their vehicles. Fully enclosed metal vehicles can offer protection from lightning during a thunderstorm as long as the metal framework of the vehicle is not touched. For more information on Lightning Safety check this link.

Watch -vs- Warning:

A watch is used when the risk of hazardous weather event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.

A warning is issued when a hazardous weather event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property.