Thursday, October 9, 2008

Keeping eyes on the sky

RICHMOND, Va. (Monday, October 6, 2008) – In 2005, during the first year of Richmond’s run as host of the National Folk Festival, the city learned to keep an eye on the weather.

Fair skies expectedRainy weather on Friday and Saturday forced festival organizers to scramble performance schedules so that the festival-goers who braved the elements could shelter under tents. Some prospective festival-goers stayed away. Staff and volunteers and staff either sweltered under raingear or opted to get cold and wet without.

But the show went on, and sunny weather on Sunday brought warmth, crowds, success, and enthusiasm for future festivals.

That enthusiasm was rewarded. The next two incarnations of the National Folk Festival here were blessed by fair skies.

With the Richmond Folk Festival opening tomorrow, the weather should not be a problem. Earlier this week, showers seemed a possibility, but the chance for that has diminished as the opening of the celebration neared. High temperatures should be in the upper 70s; low temperatures may drop into the 40s. The sun should be shining.

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Even if clouds moved in, the show would go on, just as it had in 2005.

“First of all, we plan for rain, and then develop a sun alternative,” said Dwain Winters, technical director of the festival. “We design the festival so it operates in inclement weather. It’s not an afterthought, it’s fundamental.”

Winters said that the on-site command center has Internet access to a number of weather sources. In addition, they often communicate with local weather-watchers who can keep them abreast of developments.

Violent weather is the greatest concern. But rain is more of an inconvenience than a problem.

“Just plain rain, we’re ready for that,” Winters said. “It becomes then a decision with the outdoor venues whether they can continue operating in instances of heavy rain – we have covered stages, but the audience is uncovered. That is a decision for the senior management team of the festival.”

If a decision is made to cease operations at the outdoor venues, festival management will adjust the performance schedule accordingly, as it did in 2005, so that the audience can experience the full range of acts the festival has to offer.
Given the timing of the festival – in October – one can be sure the weather here will be interesting.

“We have both the opportunity for tropical storms, and we have the opportunity for the first of the early winter cold fronts to come through,” said Winters. “The first year, we got both in the same weekend.

“But we are well prepared for the rain, so people can be confident that if they come to the event, there will be an event here to see.”

For more information:

Richmond current conditions and forecast from the National Weather Service

Richmond current conditions and forecast from WeatherUnderground.com

Richmond current conditions from The Weather Channel

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