Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weather Channel Meteorologist Takes on "Fluke" Assessment of Saturday's Storm

Saturday's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair was clearly a tragedy, but according to a Weather Channel Meteorologist, it was no fluke.

Tim Ballisty, an Editorial Meteorologist for the Weather Channel, writes a very strong argument supporting his assessment.

Ballisty writes:

In a recent AP article, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana was quoted as saying that the blast of wind that toppled the stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair killing 5 people was a "fluke event".

A "fluke" by definition is an unlikely chance occurrence. The destructive and deadly wind gust on Saturday evening in Indianapolis was no chance occurrence.

Let's stop bucketing meteorology and weather in general into some magical mystery science that can't be explained. When a tragic accident due to existing extreme weather conditions occurs, there is a notion to just throw your hands up in the air and say, "well, nothing could have been done to avoid this" or "nobody could have seen this coming" or "it was just a damn fluke". In many instances, that just simply is not the case and it wasn't the case in the tragedy at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Powerful, damaging winds were a known threat several days before and during the minutes leading up to the stage collapse.

The piece, linked here, goes on to lay out in detail the facts behind his argument. Besides the soundness of the canopy over the stage, the reaction of organizers to the approaching weather will no doubt be part of any potential lawsuits, and any potential efforts to paint this as anything other than normal Indiana summer weather will meet this strong challenge that Ballisty articulates in his piece.

I am not making this political. In fact, I think Governor Mitch Daniels has showed a very human side in his reaction to this tragedy. His words have been heartfelt, and it was truly touching when he nearly choked up when talking about how proud he was to be the Governor of Indiana at the memorial service.

With that said, it's clear to this Weather Channel meteorologist that the Governor's assessment of this as a "fluke event" is just not accurate.


Crossed said...

It was obvious Daniels was choosing his words carefully in relation to litigation. I would hazard an "act of god" is covered by insurance where human error might not be.

Anonymous said...

I was at the fair the Tuesday when a "pop up" storm hit the fairgrounds and sent at least two unsecured tents flying down the food midway behind the grandstands hitting several people.

This is no fluke.

I do recall hearing a weather siren just before it hit that gave warning to the people outdoors to seek shelter.

No saying the siren would have changed the outcome, but IPD homeland recently took over responsibility for this and changed the policy to sound the sirens less frequently in June.

The civil defense sirens and new policies need to be reviewed publically.

Anonymous said...

Channel 13 has a video of the announcer actually telling the crowd that Sugarland was going to take the stage in a minute, during the preliminary weather update at the concert before the collapse.

Investigation begins, but State Fair Commission says accident was unavoidable