Central Indiana concert venues ready with severe weather plans

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s one of the biggest weekends of the year at Klipsch Music Center. Dave Matthews Band is performing Friday and Saturday.

But at summer concerts, you can’t always count on a dry night. You just want to listen to music, but sometimes Mother Nature presses pause.

Unfortunately in central Indiana, we know all too well that severe weather at a concert can do a lot more than just ruin your night, says Hamilton County Emergency Management’s Tom Sivak.

Now at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, concerts are held in the renovated coliseum. It’s now standard operating procedure for a meteorologist to be on site monitoring fairground-specific radar every day of the fair, and there is a communication system in place between every stake holder, from food vendors to management, for severe weather plan updates.

“What we’ve seen is special events have taken a different turn over the past couple of years,” said Sivak. “There’s been a lot more focus on contingency planning. A lot more focus on having emergency plans and policies and procedures in place. We’ve seen that those have ramped up in the last couple of years and they provide a lot more information of what they’re going to do, when they’re going to make decisions and how they’re going to make decisions.”

Sivak says while Emergency Management has a much broader focus in the county, they do keep in constant contact with venues and stay up-to-speed on their plans.

“Being able to information-share back and forth and know who’s doing what and how big of a population base is going to be at these events is helpful for us in our planning because if anything catastrophic took place, we can definitely lean forward and give them tools to be successful in the event that something happens.”

“The larger ones will share plans with us, but they all have the same flavor to them. They talk about weather. They talk about contingency, who makes the decision and when they make the decision.”

It’s rain or shine at Symphony on the Prairie at Conner Prairie, but the show must stop if lightning is within 10 to 15 miles.

Jessica Di Santo says they plan for 10 minutes of evacuation time per 1,000 people, so they work closely with the National Weather Service and another weather tracking program and send people to their cars if needed, saying that’s their safest spot to wait it out.

They encourage you to always be prepared with rain gear and a tarp for the ground if you don’t have lawn chairs.

Klipsch Music Center is constantly monitoring too, and like most other venues, uses social media to feed updates to concert-goers.

Sivak says it’s also a good idea for you to have a plan of your own.

“Start thinking about what’s my contingency plan? When are we going to leave? Are we seeing lightning in the area? What are we gonna do for our family to make sure our family is safe?”

Be sure to stay with FOX 59 for the latest weather conditions.