Saskatchewan

Emergency plans in place for extreme weather, says concert organizers

The nasty storm cells that pounded Regina Friday evening had the potential to derail a couple of major concerts but organizers say a combination of well-laid emergency plans and patient fans meant both concerts wound up a huge success.  

Sandra Butel with Regina Folk Festival says everyone did their jobs well when the storm hit Friday night

These two young Folk Festival attendees were dressed for the rainy weather Friday night. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The nasty storm cells that pounded Regina Friday evening had the potential to derail a couple of major concerts.

And while the weather triggered delays at the Garth Brooks show and the Regina Folk Festival, organizers say a combination of well-laid emergency plans and patient fans meant both concerts wound up a huge success.  

Sandra Butel with the Folk Festival said the audience found shelter and then came back to watch the rest of the show after it was delayed more than two hours.

"We all did our job in trusting one another, and the artists did a great job of putting on their shows, and it was like it never happened," she said.

Emergency plans in place

Butel said the Folk Festival has a detailed emergency plan they follow when bad weather hits and everyone did their jobs and worked together well.

"You absolutely can't have a stage running if there's lightning. So you had to count 30 minutes from the last lightning strike before we could imagine being back on the stage." 

Not even the organizers can go on the stage if there's lightning, so they have a microphone rigged up to make announcements from anywhere, Butel said. 

They also update all of their social media platforms and communicate with the whole team through text messages so everyone knows what's going on.

Evraz Place kept attendees informed throughout the storm via Twitter.

Despite the delay there were very few no-shows among the 40,000 fans at the Brooks concert, said Tim Reid, president and CEO of the Regina Exhibition Association. 

Reid said they have weather people on site monitoring radar.

"We have a command centre in the stadium and essentially when a storm comes within 25 kilometres we activate an alert," Reid said. "And we track that storm to see if it is actually going to come the way of the stadium.

"At 15 kilometres out we call a command emergency meeting where we make the call of what we are going to do at the stadium."

He said the challenge Friday night was there were multiple storm cells that blew through Regina.

At its peak there were about 31,000 people in shelter at Mosaic Stadium.

The rest of the people were hunkered down at the Brandt Centre, AffinityPlex or in transit.

At the Brandt Centre, the Roughriders game played until it, too, was cut short due to bad weather in Montreal

And then the Zamboni driver became the centre of attention.

The show did go on, though, if a bit later than originally expected.

Reid said it turned into a spectacular night despite the challenges. 

"That's why you go to outdoor concerts. You never know what you're going to get," he said. "For so many people it was the best concert they've ever seen and a night to remember, even though they were probably a little wet in their Wranglers."

Risky business

Attendees are taking a risk, too, when it comes to outdoor events. With both the Folk Festival and the Garth Brooks concert, they were planned to go on rain or shine.

Neither concert provided refunds or accommodations if people missed the shows because of the delay.

The weather forecast for Saturday night was clear, though a bit chilly with a low of 4 C and a risk of frost.

Butel didn't think the cool weather would be a problem.

"You can wear your toques and mitts, we don't mind."

The only weather they're concerned about is wind and lighting. For everything else, the show goes on, Butel said.

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer and reporter with CBC Saskatoon, CBC Saskatchewan, and CBC North; and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca