Event Planning – Preparing Your Event for Bad Weather

May 26, 2010 - 4 minutes read


Flip-flops flapping off the feet of Northern Minnesotans in February are not unusual.  Minnesotans can handle their cold.   Unfortunately, even events in Minnesota have to be halted when the weather is too chilly.

Along the Mississippi Riverfront on the morning of May 8th, approximately 40 dedicated volunteers gathered to participate in a 5k entitled “Running with the Rats”  This event was organized by the Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show Team to raise money for their non-profit 501 (c)(3) .

The plan for the morning was to offer last minute event registration in the morning, run the 5K, follow up with lunch at nearby Broadway Pizza, and hold a water ski show for the participants.

Problem and Solution
Although it was May, the weather lingered around 35 degrees.  This, in addition to the bitter wind sweeping across the Mississippi River, made for a chilly atmosphere and prevented any and all water-skiing action.  One of the skiers noted that although they had a decent turnout this year, there were approximately 40 less people than there were the previous year (due to the weather).  Fortunately, the group was able to continue their 5k race but unfortunately had to cancel their water ski show.

The group gives so much to the community (including free shows to the general public) and participates in varying events around the community making them respected and admired.  As a result, participants were content in simply running with the group.  And although they were slightly disappointed that they did not see the River Rats’ performance, they were glad to support the group.  One participant noted that when he heard about the fundraiser for the group, he was “in it in a heartbeat” because of his respect for the group.

In a scenario such as this one, the importance of the show was downplayed in the eyes of the participants.  As a result, canceling the show was acceptable.

What do you need to consider when planning YOUR event?

  1. Look up the weather.  Check the weather at least a week prior to your event.  At that time, consider alternate arrangements for your event if possible.  Perhaps you need to consider moving a portion of the event indoors.  Ask yourself: what changes do I need to make in order for this event to happen?
  2. Consider how altering an event will alter your participants’ expectations.  Above, the participants were at the race mainly to help raise money and support for the non-profit.  Therefore, altering the water ski portion of the event did not disappoint them greatly.  Ask yourself: How will altering my event change my participants’ expectations?  Will it be for the better or not? Could it cost me those participants in the future?
  3. Communicate any changes with your participants.  Remember that you are the event planner.  People are looking to you for answers.  You should help make them aware of the weather; tell them what they need to know.  People appreciate reminders, even simple ones such as “Don’t forget a hat and gloves on Saturday; it’s going to be a cold one!”

Cold weather can be a nasty deterrent to amazing events.  Don’t fight the weather.  Be ahead of the game, and let your participants know that you’re on their side.

If you live in the Twin Cities and are interested in joining the Rats, check ‘em out! Or for the not so brave, check out their weekly shows.