A standard-issue warm and humid summer Saturday night was underway in Dallas, Texas. The Linkin Park Carnivores Tour was about to take the stage as a thunderstorm was developing west-northwest of the GEXA Energy Pavilion. WDT WeatherOps meteorologist Lindsey Ozment had been in communication with Linkin Park Production Manager, Jim Digby throughout the day keeping him updated on the developing weather. This process started earlier in the day when, before getting off the bus at 8am, Jim received his “WeatherCheck” from WDT forecasters informing him about the possibility of thunderstorms. The WeatherCheck, along with the Linkin Park Weather threat/decision action matrix, is always posted throughout the backstage area when the band plays. Jim pre-briefed his crew that morning to review the actions they would take if the thunderstorms did indeed occur.
The primary weather threat for the show was lightning strikes. The wind/downburst potential was very small, and the band and the gear were well protected inside the amphitheater therefore the crowd was the only concern. Right after doors opened, Jim received another alert from WDT on his cell phone, as well as a call from Lindsey. Jim immediately accessed WDT WeatherOps Decision Support software on his laptop to see where the thunderstorms were located and the direction in which they were moving. WDT advised that the storm would impact the venue within 30 minutes and last approximately 20-25 minutes.
Jim Digby is responsible for the equipment, crew, and artists, but he had established an Incident Command Structure (ICS) with the venue staff and was in constant communication with them. When the lightning threat approached, they decided to move the patrons out of the concessions, and off the lawn under the Pavilion structure. Using the ICS team, Jim Digby went onstage and quickly made the announcement, with video messages on the main video wall. Security personnel quickly executed their severe weather action plan, bringing fans under the cover of the GEXA Pavilion for protection. After a short delay, the show went on. AFI, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Linkin Park rocked well into the night for what turned out to be a near capacity crowd – and everyone went home safe and sound.
Linkin Park Production Manager, Jim Digby addresses the crowd as lightning threatens the venue.
As has been proven time and again, preparation you do BEFORE any event is critical to keeping everyone safe. Meteorologists utilizing the latest technology, coupled with pre planning your response can allow the show to go on in almost every instance while ensuring the safety of fans, staff, talent; and protection of assets.
Navigate to http://wdtinc.com/live-events for more information from WDT WeatherOps regarding Event Safety. You can buy tickets for the Linkin Park Carnivores Tour at: http://www.linkinpark.com/events. The Event Safety Guide can help you plan at http://eventsafetyalliance.org.