Indiana State Fair Official Ignored Meteorologist's Advice To Delay Concert

Local meteorologist Paul Poteet is speaking up about the advice he gave State Fair Grounds Director Cindy Hoye last Saturday evening on the question of whether to proceed with last Saturday night's Sugarland concert in light of severe thunderstorms moving into the Indianapolis area. Poteet told Fox 59 News' Marisela Burgos that he had a conversation with Hoye at about 8:15 p.m. during which he advised that fair officials should delay the start of the concert:

"I pointed out the radar, the line of storms on the radar, and mentioned there had been, you know, a string of severe thunderstorm warnings already - in fact, west and to the northwest of those storms," Poteet said.
Poteet mentioned at the time the National Weather Service had reports of wind gusts about 60 miles per hour. 
"It didn't look like Indianapolis was going to escape, you know, a thunderstorm -rain, thunder and lightning," Poteet said.
Poteet said he thought the storm would get into the area between 8:45p.m. and 9p.m. or a little bit after that. He said Cindy Hoye asked him whether they whould start or delay the show. 
"The best course of action would be to wait it out, delay it, wait and let the storm pass through," he said.
Despite Poteet's opinion and a warning from the National Weather Service, fair officials never made the call to cancel the show and a half hour later, they sent an emcee onto the stage only telling people where they could seek shelter if the weather got too bad. Governor Mitch Daniels said he has ordered the Indiana State Fair Commission to investigate the decisions made that night. "All the questions being asked are the right ones and appropriate. There are a lot of facts still uncertain," Governor Daniels said.
Governor Daniels said they'll look at the structure of the stage and the reaction/response of the people who were there Saturday night.
"I'm not saying they were handled correctly or incorrectly. I don't know. Honestly, I think nobody has enough facts to come up with a conclusion yet," Governor Daniels said.
Fair officials have said when they were going to announce an evacuation a gust of wind blew through the fairgrounds.
When the investigations are completed, it looks like blame will be shared by the improvident decision of state fair officials to ignore approaching dangerous weather conditions for an outdoor concert and the use of aging stage rigging equipment that was not properly braced or load-balanced to withstand high wind conditions. As I pointed out yesterday, Illinois State Fair officials are saying the disaster that occurred at the Indiana State Fair would never happen at their fair because of the obvious differences in their modern stage rigging equipment compared to that used by Indiana State Fair officials and the fact that it cancels concerts when similar weather conditions exist. The overhead canopy of Illinois' stage rigging equipment can be lowered during high winds, and employees actually monitor the weight acts propose to hang from the rigging to ensure the load balance is appropriate to avoid making it unstable. Illinois fair officials actually lowered its overhead stage rigging when the same weather system that hit Indianapolis Saturday night moved through Springfield earlier in the afternoon.