If you have a cold, your family physician is fine. But, if you have heart disease you want a specialist: A cardiologist who is experienced with the type of surgery you need. Your local meteorologist is great in most situations. But, when it comes to a tornado, lightning, or an ice storm, you want an experienced specialist that can provide you with the most accurate, timely and objective information possible.
I did a little research to see how often local meteorologists handled tornado warning situations last year (2012). In Kansas City, it was two days. Indianapolis 19 days. Nashville, 20. Our meteorologists, because we handle all of North America, issued tornado warnings on 164 days last year!
There is an experience factor that I just mentioned plus we are forecasting for and monitoring your specific venue. A television meteorologist is attempting to cover his or her viewing area equally.
A subtle advantage is, because we are not local, we are not invested in your event. How is that an advantage? Because we are objective. The meteorologist with the station that is co-sponsoring your event might not be. We work for and with you, to help you make the most informed decisions.
AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, since 1987, has been in the business of making the “hard decisions.” In addition to highly experienced meteorologists, we have unique technology that helps us process and base decisions on data often not available to others. We are willing to make the hard decisions for the event producers so they can focus on running a successful event rather than playing “amateur meteorologist.”
Our service is very popular and we have many high profile event clients. We work with LiveNation, numerous professional and collegiate sports teams, and fairs from the State Fair of Texas down to the county level. The name of our service is SkyGuard®. Our website: http://enterprisesolutions.accuweather.com And, for SkyGuard specifically, http://enterprisesolutions.accuweather.com/skyguard
There are various levels of involvement on our part. You can request 24-hour a day monitoring or only the hours that the event is in progress. You can also have a person on-site if you choose but it is not necessary, given today’s technology. Our services are entirely customized to your event’s needs. Naturally, an indoor event may not need this service as extensively as an outdoor event. A single day occurrence is definitely going to be less expensive than a week-long event and so on. You do have some control over the costs. Therefore it should be budgeted as any other expense.
Well let me just say that the process involves a lot more then just signing up. There is a lot of input required from the producer to determine the answers -- before the event begins -- to a number of critical issues:
WHO (one person) interfaces with the meteorologist? More than one creates confusion. How will time critical information (lightning warning, for example) be conveyed?
How long does it take to shelter and/or evacuate? In meteorology, there is always a trade-off between "lead time" (the interval from when the forecast is made to when the storm arrives) and accuracy. So, you need to determine the amount of time you need, add ten minutes or so for safety, then lock it down. If thirty minutes is sufficient to shelter, don't ask the meteorologist for one hour.
How are you going to communicate a storm warning to the staff and to the guests? This question isn't just whether you are going to use a public address system, what language will you use? When you convey the warning you need to add the appropriate precautionary measures. For example, if it is a lightning warning, where do you want them to take shelter? Panic is surprisingly rare, but social research shows that one of the few ways panic is induced is when people are given a warning of some type and then given no information or conflicting information about what measures to take.
You may wish to write critical messaging out in advance: "A tornado warning has been issued. Everyone should move to the arena building or to the fairgrounds office immediately. We will keep you posted as we get more information. To repeat, a tornado warning has been issued. Please move to the arena building or fairgrounds office immediately."
Mark your shelters in advance!
Never change the procedures in the middle of a severe weather event. Confusion is the most dangerous condition in lightning, tornado, or high winds. Do a review after the event is over and make the changes then.
For rural events, a road that is fine in dry conditions may become a quagmire in heavy rains. Be prepared to barricade unsafe roads when weather conditions demand.