Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
Jul 14

17 Overlooked Ways Weather Can Affect Your Event

When you think of how weather can affect an event you probably think of an outdoor one having to be cancelled because of the lovely Irish rain. That's actually fairly rare.

What are considerably LESS rare are the following effects that weather can have on your event. 


Now featuring the handy infographic we had so many requests for.

Sometimes a visual can be helpful.

These are ones we find people may not always consider in advance. They're very real though and can impact your event to varying degrees. 

#1. Queue pressure

A happy crowd outside your doors patiently waiting for them to open can very quickly turn into something altogether more problematic, should the heavens open and rain down upon them.

Now you're likely to have surges and crushing problems as people battle to try and get in out of the rain. 

#2. Audience arrival profile

Weather, be it scorching sunshine or incessant downpours, can significantly affect the arrival profile of your audience. 

If the weather is good then you may find your audience arriving earlier, looking to make the best of the sunshine. This can especially be the case if your event is an outdoor one. It may mean you need to look at being ready to open the site earlier than you'd originally planned which may have all sorts of knock on implications for suppliers, vendors, acts, staff etc. 

If it's lashing rain then you're likely to see people arriving much later, so as to avoid having to queue out in the rain. This may cause issues in your car park with a large number of vehicles landing at the same time. You may also find it causes issues with all the drivers looking to drop / park right outside your front door. It's understandable, but may be a serious issue for you and the management of the event. 

#3. Drowning danger in campsites

I worked a festival once where this was a genuine issue so keep it in mind. 

With people having pitched their tents in drier weather, subsequent downpours can see people sleeping in puddles. 

The risk here is that drunk people may not realise the danger and flop onto the sleeping bag and pass out. 

As they say, you can drown in a couple of inches of water. 

#4. Staging

You need to take in the prevailing wind direction when you're planning where to put your stage for an outdoor gig. You need to know the wind rating for the stage and you need to be monitoring the wind speed and direction so as to know if you're coming close to having something to worry about.

There have been some serious stage collapses in recent years with many lives lost. It should be a real concern for you. 

Karl who works with us also made another very valid point in relation to stage positioning for outdoor gigs. If you're going to have acts on the stage late into the evening then you don't want the sun setting behind the stage. This will make for some very unhappy punters looking into the sun.

#5. Extra pressure on medical 

You'll always find that your medics will be busier in any type of 'extreme' weather conditions than they would be otherwise. 

In very sunny weather people will be dehydrated, getting sunburned and passing out. 

In very wet weather people will be getting pneuomonia and potentially hypothermia. 

In high winds they may be dealing with injuries from debris being blown around etc. 

We've seen it all happen.

#6. Drinking Water

If you do have an event, particularly an outdoor one, in unusually warm sunny weather then you'll quickly discover you need much more demand for drinking water than you might have had otherwise. 

Ensuring that those in attendance stay hydrated will help you avoid the extra pressure on your medical services mentioned above. 

We've worked at events where a lot of remedial site work has had to be done to pipe extra water to pits etc. to provide more access. 

#7. Staff morale

Most of us have been there. You're working one of your first events and your all excited - for a while. 

The excitement can be quickly replaced by anger and resentment when you're left out on some post somewhere with nobody coming to check on you and seemingly nobody caring about whether you're in good nick or not. 

Staff who are lacking in morale are one of the worst things you can have at your event.

#8. Stuck in the mud

One of the lads who works for us was recently working on an event build where the forklifts and Manitou spent more time pulling staff vehicles out of the mud than they did working on the actual site build. The ground didn't seem too bad each day when they parked on the grass but a couple of showers later there were serious problems. 

My advice is to avoid arranging parking for your event on grass.  

If you have to use grass or softer ground then you need to have plans in place for when you may need to help vehicles that are stuck. 

#9. Issues for acts arriving

Rain, fog, snow, ice, thunder, lightning and even volcanic ash clouds can all stop planes from flying and tour buses from driving. 

As affects go, your headline act not being able to make it to the gig is right up there with the more serious ones. 

#10. Umbrellas

Rain means umbrellas and we get a lot of rain here so we tend to see a lot of umbrellas at events.

Now, even in the hands of a nice person, umbrellas can be a problem. They can block the view for people around them. They can actually cause people around them to get wetter than they otherwise would, with water running off the umbrella onto them. They can also accidentally poke people in the head or eyes too.  

Now, put that same umbrella in the hands of someone looking to use it to do damage to someone else and umbrellas are a serious weapon. We've seen what they can do and it isn't pretty.

#11. Slips & trips

If you have people coming indoors for outside where it's wet, you're going to have slippy floors very soon afterwards. 

This is the type of thing that should have been identified in your initial Risk Assessment so the management and control measures should also have been identified and you can roll them out when you need to. 

This is one of those things which is definitely something that can have been 'reasonably foreseen so there's no excuse for not being able to cope with it. 

#12. People's moods

I hope this one doesn't seem TOO fluffy but ask any experienced #eventprofs and they'll tell you that they can sense the mood of a crowd at a gig. The mood of a crowd is greatly affected by the weather and the success of your event is greatly affected by the mood of your crowd.

#13. Pyrotechnics

Pyro is often a huge element of events these days. They're usually used to mark the climax or finale of an event and, as such, are a fairly integral part of the whole thing. 

'High winds' can mean the pyro can't happen. The thing about wind ratings for fireworks is that what won't FEEL like 'high winds' to people on the ground constitutes 'high winds' when it comes to pyro. They can be very dangerous and are wind rated for a reason. 

Even short of having to cancel the pyro because the winds are too high, swirling winds or unpredictable winds can cause issues too. When you're planning a fireworks display you plan where the fallout will be and that's designated a sterile area. Changeable wind conditions can alter where the fallout will land and can be dangerous to people gathered below. 

#14. Vendor / supplier access

In the same way weather can cause issues for your acts arriving, the same can happen to your suppliers and vendors etc.

Delays in the delivery of food or any supplies has the potential to cause serious problems.  Remember we discussed people's moods above? Well imagine how the lack of food or drink might affect their mood if the deliveries can't get through?

#15. Staff no-shows

Good weather can be so rare in this country that a sudden heatwave can deplete your staff levels very quickly. Staff, be they paid or volunteers, who had committed to working your event may decide the opportunity to enjoy the rare rays of sunshine may be too good to pass up. 

Depending on what function those staff were due to perform at the event, their absence could represent significant issues for the safe and effective running of the event. 

#16. Wind ruining the sound

We know people who have been at gigs and describe only being able to hear the sound coming through the speakers intermittently. This was caused by wind blowing through the line array PA system. 

Not being able to hear the gig properly is a surefire reason for people to complain about your event. 

#17. Dust

A load of us worked at Oxegen one year and there was a serious issue with dust due to how dry the weather was. 

It can tear up your throat and make staff and attendees very uncomfortable. 

The bottom line

Weather is the biggest factor completely out of your control. 

It has the potential to affect you in a variety of ways. 

Be aware of them. 

Have I missed out on any others?

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