Don’t Let the Weather Ruin Your Outdoor Plans!
POSTED: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 1:50pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 3:58pm
A Little Weather Research and a Plan B Can Help Save an Outdoor Event or Fun
Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 — El Paso has near or new record high temperatures in the forecast for this weekend. 80º temperatures will have some us throwing on some summer gear and firing up the grill! All year long here in the Borderland I get many requests for forecasts for people’s big outdoor event. Weddings, Concerts, nightclubs, family parties, cook outs etc… They all think that because I am a meteorologist I have someone inside track, some special power to help keep weather from ruining their plans. I do not sugar coat the forecast, I just tell it like is. People are sad and worried at first, but then they are appreciative for my honesty. They realize they would rather know and prepared than be surprised by the variety of challenges the weather can present. In my experience is best to check out the average climate for that day, talk to someone who knows what the biggest weather challenges are for that time of year and make a solid plan B so you have an option if the weather takes a turn for the worst.
What time of year are you planning this event? The best place to go for El Paso climate data is the El Paso National Weather Service Climate and Records page.
This gives you an idea of the average low and high temperature for that day and average rainfall. Knowing the temperature is important in making arrangements in keeping yourself and guests warm or cool. Do you need a tent to keep your guests out of the blazing desert sun? Bottled water is a good idea all year long. I will get into some other planning tips later in this “Weather Talk”.
Most of us who have spent many years here or have grown up here know our seasons. That leads us into talking to someone you knows the climate challenges for that time of year. We are cold from about Thanksgiving through late March. The Borderland experiences our “windy season” from the end of February through sometimes mid May. We are hot from mid may through the mid September. We see most of our rainfall during our “monsoon season”. We know if it is anytime from June 15th through September 15th, our monsoon season there is a better than normal chance of seeing a late day shower or thunderstorm. The hottest time of year is from mid May through the start of September. Upper 90º to 100º + temperatures can really be a challenge for any outdoor activity. The best time of year is from the end of September through mid November when the temperatures start to cool and there are not too many storms systems blowing through.
Now, if it is during the cold season you have to keep everyone warm. You may need to buy or rent some out door propane heater lamps. Plan to serve some hot beverages, coffee, hot chocolate, chapurrado, etc… to warm people up from the inside. Design some places where guests can shelter themselves from the wind. Tents have to be secure enough so they do not blow away!
The wind can blow any day of the year here in the Borderland. I think the wind can play a big part in ruining your outdoor events. I remember when the concert promoter called me worried about the wind the day before a big country concert outside in the Sun Bowl at UTEP years ago.I told him to start the show early if he could because there would be 60+mph peak wind gusts by the afternoon. The winds tend to be their strongest at the time of maximum daytime heating. Sure enough, a powerful gust toppled a speaker stack while the “Dixie Chicks” were playing. If it was not for the quick thinking of the stage hands carrying the girls off right before the speakers toppled, they would have been crushed. Anything that can blow over or blow away should be extra secured or not used at all. Balloons and streamers look nice, but become airborne very easily even in low breezy range winds.
Keeping you party goers cool is one of the biggest challenges during our summer months. When the thermometer consistently hit 95º to 100º it can not only ruin a party it can be dangerous! Plenty of water is a must! Shelter from the sun is the first step. Patio over hangs or tents can help your guest hide. Making sure you have enough fans to keep the air circulating helps cool people a bit. You can rent the portable evaporative cooling fans, but they do not help much when the Borderland is humid during out “monsoon season”.
Rain, although it is somewhat rare here in the desert, can really soak your cookout or outdoor event. The ideal scenario is to plan an event near some outdoor shelter or canopy helps. Usually there is not enough room for everyone under the shelter to keep from getting wet. Make sure your guests know to bring rain gear, ponchos, etc… to be safe. I have thrown a large concert and you can buy rain insurance if you have the budget. The insurance helps pay all your bands if it rains over .01” even if they still play.
The best way to avoid all these sometimes costly outdoor safety precautions is to have a solid Plan B. The best weather safe Plan B is to move the festivities indoors. I know this does not work very well if there is a large group of people. You have to be creative with a secondary weather safe place to go to. If it is a house out door party as many people as possible can go indoors, in a garage or into their cars to wait out the worst of the weather.
Looking for a Party Hall at the last minute is difficult, but not impossible. Having people drive to a restaurant with a banquet room or a hotel with a conference room may also be an option.
This weekend we will not have any strong winds, rain, snow or cold to put a damper on your outdoor activities. We will experience just the Borderland sunshine and near 80º afternoon high temperatures. So clean off that grill and marinate those steaks or Carne Asada. Just remember when you are planning a big outdoor part or event, check the climate and forecast, talk to a weather expert if you can and always have a secondary Plan B. Here’s wising you a successful event where you have minimized the ever changing impact of the weather.