Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

OK, this is getting ridiculous--the third major collapse of this season, and this time, apparently and tragically, it was fatal. 

This video is really disturbing, especially if you've worked on a stage like this and know how heavy those line arrays and stage structure are:

(Better quality video added August 14)

Here's a blurry video but it shows the speed of the collapse:

This one on CNN in case the others get taken down:

Apparently, according to the Indianapolis Star, which has photos here, the stage collapsed just before 9pm local time.  9pm Indy time on August 13 is about 0100 UTC on August 14. Here's the radar image from Indianapolis just after 0100 UTC (Indianapolis, and the Fair site, are right at the center of the circle):

Here's a loop:

(Sorry for the quality--it's late and I was hosting a BBQ here until a few minutes ago--I can get a better loop later.)

In the radar you can clearly see a massive northeast-southwest front coming across the state from west to east, and once again it shows gust fronts or outflow boundaries out in front of the storm, which often indicate high winds, as I explained in the last posting. Anyone with some weather knowledge watching the radar would likely have seen this--in the third loop in the video I point out the gust fronts with the mouse in this low res (Level III) radar archive. 

My thoughts are with the families of the victims...


on 2011-08-14 18:23 by controlgeek

Looks like the Indianapolis area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch from the Storm Prediction Center at the time of the incident:

And Accuweather is reporting that this line was severe warned ("Watches" show general conditions are favorable, "warning" means this storm IS severe.)


on 2011-08-14 14:44 by controlgeek

Jesse Ferrell of Accuweather has a good write up on the storm with better radar imagery and a higher-res loop here.


on 2011-08-14 15:20 by controlgeek

The Indianapolis Star has some details on the sequence of events:

Backstage, State Police special operations commander Brad Weaver was watching an ugly storm moving in on radar via his smartphone. He and fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye decided it was time to evacuate the crowd.

But a minute later, when WLHK program director Bob Richards addressed the crowd, the word was that the show would go on, and that the crowd should be prepared to find shelter if things changed. Some of the crowd sensed the danger and left without further word. But the majority remained.


on 2011-08-14 15:30 by controlgeek

Roger Edwards talks on his blog today about the tragedy and links to a 2002 paper he wrote with Leslie R. Lemon while working at the Storm Prediction Center.  It's titled, " PROACTIVE OR REACTIVE: THE SEVERE STORM THREAT TO LARGE EVENT VENUE"


on 2011-08-14 19:12 by controlgeek

The NY Times is reporting that the stage came from Mid-America Sound in Indiana.  Pictures of the stages they rent here.


on 2011-08-15 01:58 by controlgeek

PLASA (formerly ESTA) has a standard ANSI E1.21 - 2006, "Temporary Ground-Supported Overhead Structures Used To Cover Stage Areas and Support Equipment in the Production of Outdoor Entertainment Events"  I bought a copy and am reading through it now...


on 2011-08-15 02:28 by controlgeek

Wow, maybe a gustnado hit the stage?  Via Henry Margusity:

Keep in mind that as the storm chaser was shooting this video, he had no idea of the tragedy about to unfold, which accounts for his excitement.


on 2011-08-15 15:31 by controlgeek

Via JimOnLight, comes a time line from


on 2011-08-15 17:29 by controlgeek

Wow, same storm, different venue, very different action: The Indianapolis Symphony was playing at Conner Prarie Interactive History Park, and there, the show was cancelled before the same storm front arrived, according to IndyStar.


on 2011-08-15 17:40 by controlgeek

Bill Gorlin of McClaren Engineering has a commentary up on Live Design which links back to an article on wind loads on outdoor stages he wrote back in 2008.


on 2011-08-15 17:56 by controlgeek

Severe weather expert Jon Davies (who I've heard speak at the National Storm Chaser Convention several occasions) has a great write up on his blog today, with pictures pointing out the gust front.


on 2011-08-16 04:01 by controlgeek

Another excellent radar analysis, with detailed Level II radar much better than what I have above here from Brad Panovich.


on 2011-08-19 12:54 by controlgeek

I talked about this horrible tragedy on the Weatherbrains podcast, and for further updates, see my followup about fair management here.