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Strong Thunderstorm Wind Gusts May Have Been A Major Factor In Deadly Mexico Stage Collapse

May 23, 2024

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    > AccuWeather experts say the tragic disaster could have been averted


AccuWeather Global Weather Center – May 23, 2024

Powerful wind gusts from a thunderstorm may have played a key role in the collapse of a campaign stage at a political rally in San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico.  This event serves as a yet another important reminder that proactive weather safety planning must be a priority for people and businesses to prevent loss of life and reduce risk from hazardous weather.


“Analysis of radar and real-time lightning data in the area clearly shows a thunderstorm located about 100 miles southwest of San Pedro Garza Garcia at 5pm CST. Over the next few hours, the thunderstorm moved northeast toward the event location, becoming more intense as it crossed the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains around 7pm CST,” said Dan DePodwin, AccuWeather Senior Director of Forecasting Operations.




Expert meteorologists at the AccuWeather Severe Weather Center say lightning was also reported nearby around the time of the stage collapse.


“At 8pm CST, there were many lightning strikes nearby, including one that occurred 1.8 miles east of the venue. At 8:15pm CST a nearby weather observation site 4.5 miles to the north reported a 47 mph wind gust,” said Guy Pearson, AccuWeather Senior Director of Weather Warning Services. “Based on all available data, we believe the time of the collapse was at or a few minutes after 8pm CST.  AccuWeather experts say wind gusts of 50 mph or even a bit higher may have occurred at the venue, produced by intense thunderstorms that traversed the area.”


The stage collapse in Mexico is reminiscent of other similar events caused by strong thunderstorm wind gusts.


“The Indiana State Fair stage collapsed in August 13, 2011 during a thunderstorm described as ‘sudden and violent’. Seven people died and dozens of others were hurt in that event,” said DePodwin. “Another stage collapsed at the Bluesfest in Ottawa, Canada on July 17, 2011 injured several people when a storm swept through.”

Storm Safety At Outdoor Events


“This is another tragic disaster that could have been averted by improved severe weather risk mitigation and situational awareness. In situations like these, the venue can be proactively evacuated and people moved to safe shelter prior to the arrival of gusty winds, which create special safety risks to elevated stages,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter. “The Indiana State Fair stage collapse was a watershed moment in the United States for outdoor event organizers to understand the special weather risks and safety concerns at such venues which must be mitigated using the most accurate, site-specific weather warnings from AccuWeather to enhance safety.  As an example, outdoor venues with large, elevated stages and hoisted speakers, lighting and signage can begin to have safety concerns with wind gusts of even 35 mph and may need to take appropriate actions at such thresholds to enhance safety.”


For businesses and organizations, Porter advises weather must be a factor in your contingency planning.


“Meteorological experts that specialize in serving companies and public venues, such as AccuWeather, which provides forecasts and warnings with Proven Superior Accuracy™, can help clarify the severe weather risks that impact businesses and help them develop a safety plan that evaluates all potential impacts specifically tailored to their people, their business and their location,” said Porter. “While we were not working with this venue, AccuWeather meteorologists issued thunderstorm warnings to other AccuWeather For Business customers in the San Pedro Garza Garcia area, highlighting the risk of gusty winds and brief, heavy rainfall more than 35 minutes before the gusty winds arrived near the venue."


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