Saturday, August 4, 2012

"It Doesn't Feel Like an Emergency Situation"

One year ago this month, 170 miles from downtown Chicago, the stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair. How can people forget so quickly? Seven died and 50 were injured. Many of those injured suffered serious, long term injury.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a number of Lollapalooza attendees were upset earlier today when the festival was interrupted due to storm warnings being issued for the area. 

The majority of fans evacuated but some were refusing to go even as the sky darkened. As of 4:12 p.m., nearly 45 minutes after the festival was suspended, people were still leaving the park.
"Were not leaving," said Ashley Dunne, 21.
Loren Santow, 56, and his wife were stretched on a now empty bench.
"It doesn't feel like an emergency situation is imminent," he said.
Eventually, the storm itself became the show. Some stranded attendees ran barefoot down the street, embracing the soaking conditions while others snapped photos and videos of blinding lightning strikes, ear-splitting thunder and umbrella-less people scampering through the streets. 

The storm was exactly as advertised. Each of the gold-colored "wind" symbols below is a report of winds at least 50 mph. There were numerous reports of winds in the 75-80 mph range. Trees toppled, power lines down. Two hundred thousand are without power. A few areas had hailstones up to 1" in diameter. There were many areas that experienced flash flooding.
click to enlarge

There are also complaints from people who say they didn't know to bring an umbrella or dress more substantially. This frustrates me. Twenty-eight hours before the Lollapalooza interruption, the forecast for severe thunderstorms was posted on this blog. I'm certain the local media in Chicago was making similar forecasts.

Meteorology has made tremendous progress in the last decade. The forecasts of this storm were excellent. But, we can't help unless people seek out our forecasts before outdoor activities and act upon the warnings once issued.

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