Disaster #1 is Tornado Destroys Wedding Reception. While it was more likely a severe thunderstorm's gust front, the reception was ruined as the storm hit just after the couple said their vows and completed their wedding ceremony.
As you listen to the audio, you can clearly hear the words, "nobody forecast this!"
So, I decided to see if that was true. Turns out it was well forecast. The location of the reception was at the tip of the red arrow. The blue outlined counties, including the location of the reception, were under a severe thunderstorm watch (≥60 mph winds). The thunderstorms that intensified and ruined the reception are west of Chicago (orange arrow).
The radar echo of the storm, four hours and five minutes after the watch was issued, at about the time the storm struck the reception.
Another of the "ruined" events was a wedding in Vermont washed out by the floods associated with the remains of Hurricane Irene. We have talked previously on this blog about how well forecast that was. Nevertheless, members of the wedding party had to be helicoptered out.
So, I wish to use these unfortunate outcomes to highlight two points:
- When planning an outdoor event, take a look at the climatological records for the area in question (i.e., your home or the "destination" for a destination wedding). We can research it for you (for a reasonable fee) at AccuWeather or you can do the research yourself at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. Example: An evening outdoor wedding in early June in Wichita has a six times higher chance of being washed out than one in early October. Temperatures are more likely to be favorable in early October (less humid). Early June weddings here are high risk. Even when playing the odds, make sure there is a "Plan B" to move the event indoors and there is adequate shelter if something serious develops.
- Take a look at the forecasts as the event approaches. This is a good source from AccuWeather.
- Designate someone to watch the weather if it appears the slightest bit threatening before and during the event. Make sure there is shelter adequate for all of the guests.
Bottom line: individuals have to take responsibility for monitoring their own weather in critical situations.