How Weather Intelligence Elevates the Safety and Quality of Outdoor Events

Today, extreme weather is increasingly common, and the truth is it’s been on the rise, both in frequency and severity, over the last two decades. The challenges that come with it are felt across numerous industries, and organizations are actively seeking proactive ways to manage their risks. This is especially true for event organizers responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of people at the entertainment, sporting, and corporate gatherings they host.

This spring, I spent time with many of these dedicated professionals during the Event Safety Summit — an industry conference focused on all aspects of safety, security, and health at live events. Whether you are an event professional or enjoy attending outdoor concerts, festivals, or sporting events, you may be interested in how the industry is working to not only protect people, but also ensure better attendee experiences and more profitable business performances.


A focus on safety — and beyond

Weather safety is critical, and the Event Safety Alliance — host of the summit — was founded in the wake of tragic events, like the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse, which killed seven people and injured nearly 60. This vital organization sets the standard for weather-related safety processes, which most event organizers use as a foundational strategy.

As a weather risk communicator, I was honored to host a discussion on weather maturity at this year’s summit, helping event organizers explore ways to extend the benefits of actionable weather insights beyond risk management to improve their overall planning, operations, and profitability.


The weather maturity curve

If you’re not familiar with weather maturity, it refers to how an organization uses weather information and how it reacts to or prepares for related challenges. Weather maturity is a multi-stage curve, and as an organization reaches new levels of awareness and capabilities, it can also realize greater operational and business benefits and opportunities.

Weather Maturity Curve

The DTN weather maturity curve helps organizations build awareness of their current weather-data usage level and provides insights on growth opportunities for improved future use.


An important part of moving up the weather maturity curve is understanding the broader implications of weather. It is no longer sufficient to only look at the forecast. The science has evolved to a point where — when combined with subject matter expertise — weather insights can highlight potential business risks and opportunities at an operational level. The weather also affects consumer behaviors and decisions, such as the events they choose to attend, what they’ll buy, and how long they will stay.


Even if an event organizer understands the impacts of typical weather conditions on attendance, concessions, and other sales, unexpected, extreme weather delivers greater business challenges. To efficiently manage the potential risks, they must first be identified. In addition to safety, reputation, ticket sales, parking costs, staff size, concessions, energy costs, security, sports-field maintenance, stages, and A/V equipment are often impacted by extreme weather — and the list could go on.


Once the risks are identified, the related weather conditions and thresholds must be considered. That might include any or all the following weather events: extreme heat or cold, high winds, rain, snow, lightning, flash flooding, tornadoes, fire risks, and more. Having this information in place helps organizers leverage weather insights for decision-making across the scope of the entire event. How organizations react, what they do, and how they manage weather-related impacts says a lot about who they are as a business.


Room to grow

As I worked through the maturity stages with summit participants, many self-identified their placement on the curve, from stage one to four of the five available stages. While this may highlight a need for improvement, it also provides new opportunities to deliver critical safety measures and drive greater financial success. Attendees also consistently shared their need for better pre-planning support to allow them to be more proactive versus reactive to imminent severe weather risks.

As the propensity for more frequent and extreme weather events continues to climb, event organizers must establish plans to manage potential operational impacts and business risks. A weather maturity self-assessment is a great way to begin (our white paper provides more details), and a skilled weather risk communicator can be invaluable in taking event planning and performance to the next level.


Explore an event planner’s weather maturity journey

Download our new white paper to see how event organizers can leverage risk communication to improve overall operations and advance their weather maturity.

Remmy Vandewege

About the author

Renny Vandewege is the vice president of weather operations at DTN. He holds a Master of Science in broadcast meteorology and serves as a frequent science contributor for publications like Forbes.