Planning for Adverse Weather Conditions at Events

We’re all accustomed to adverse weather here in Ireland.  The Crowded House song “Four seasons in one day” could well have been written about our fair isle.  When planning an outdoor event, weather is one thing that cannot be taken for granted.  Preparing for something that might never happen, even in the most cash strapped of events might seem like a luxury, but the consequences if you do not could be devastating.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a few weather-related tips that we incorporate here at Magnum when we plan an outdoor event.

  1. Adverse doesn’t always mean rain.

While the consensus is that Ireland is a rainy country, the fact is the number of wet days ranges from 150 days a year along the east and south coasts to 225 days a year in parts of the west. So, rain isn’t the only weather you should factor for. Plan for excess wind, which can affect temporary structures, and unexpected heatwaves can cause dehydration in your attendees. So, make sure you’ve plenty of water points!

Having effective communication practices both to staff and attendees can help alleviate pressure when adverse weather strikes. Keep staff up to date with contingency plans, so everyone knows what their role is. Relay vital information to attendees, which exits to use, what walkways are blocked, what areas are safe etc.

  1. Effective Site Maintenance.

It’s very important that the site must continue to be maintained during adverse weather. This could mean having a supply of straw or woodchip handy to cover walkways and arenas to combat mud, to keeping bathroom facilities clean. One should also be aware of the effects of high wind, making safe or removing structures or signage that may have fallen or become unstable.

  1. Health and safety.

Have you adequate medical cover should the weather turn nasty?

Can emergencies arising from adverse weather be dealt with in a timely manner?

Is the on-site equipment adequately protected from the elements or weather resistant?

  1. Adequate Risk Assessment.

Way back during the planning stages, a detailed risk assessment would have been carried out. This would incorporate detailed contingency plans and would outline specific roles to specific people. It would also detail “trigger points”, the point at which the plans would come into effect, eliminating guesswork and indecision.

  1. Evacuation/Emergency plans.

This coincides with point 5 above. There’s no point knowing when to spring into action if you don’t know what the plan is. Evacuation/Emergency plans should be drawn up and will be site and event specific. Should the event be halted? Or even cancelled?

  1. Use all available data.

You can’t rely just on the local news weather forecast. An event planner needs a bit more detail than that! Liaise with your local meteorological service (in Ireland it’s Met Eireann) or if your budget allows, you may hire a private company that specialises in event meteorology. Even something as simple as a weather vane or anemometer outside production offices can give you an at a glance read of wind speed!

We hope you find some of these tips useful, and we hope even more that you seldom must implement them. I’m reminded of an old saying regarding martial arts: “You learn Karate so that you need never use it!”


E-Venting is an event management blog by Magnum Events

This week’s entry was written by Sean Doyle