Sunday, August 14, 2011

Radar Imagery Associated with the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

The purpose of this post is to show you some of the radar images associated with a line of thunderstorms that caused the tragic stage collapse yesterday evening at the Indiana State Fair.  For more specific details on the event itself, as well as my thoughts on how this tragedy could have potentially been avoided, please see my earlier post.

The first image was taken at 8:35 PM EDT by the National Weather Service (NWS) Radar in Indianapolis.  This was about 4 minutes before the official NWS warning was issued:

I have put a red dot on this (and subsequent) images showing the location of the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  On this first image I have also circled it in yellow (look near the center of the image under the word "Rocky".

The white arrows on the above image note the location of a "fineline", the thin blue line that you see (dotted in some areas, more solid in others) out ahead of the line of thunderstorms that were advancing toward the East at 25-30 mph.  A fineline is a radar signature that denotes strong, gusty winds (also known as a "gust front") blowing out ahead of a line of storms.  In this particular case, the gust front was approximately 5-7 miles out ahead of the line of storms on the Northern end (which is the portion that would have affected the Fairgrounds).

By the 8:44 PM image (below), the gust front was about 4 miles West of the Fairgrounds and continuing Eastward:

In just that 9 minute period of time, you can see that the fineline/gust front signature on the radar has advanced even further ahead of the thunderstorm line to the West of the Fairgrounds - a sign that the winds were growing stronger and advancing further East of the thunderstorm line at an even faster rate.

By the 8:53 PM image, the gust front was on top of the Fairgrounds, with the radar signature having advanced just to the East of that location: 

As I pointed out in my original post, a trained professional would have recognized the fineline/gust front signature on radar, as well as its Eastward acceleration, and the obvious danger that it posed to the Fairgrounds.  

The viewing of a radar image on a smartphone by a non-trained individual (see my original post for those details) simply doesn't get the job done, and carries potentially disastrous consequences as we've unfortunately seen in this case....

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SurfSkiWeatherMan said...

Great Explanation Rob!
And you are in Texas!!

I am so happy to discover The Origianl Weather Blog.

I too have been 'logging' weather since before Gore.
But my words are hand written in a Journal. You share your words with the world.

For this we thank you.

Best, SurfSkiWeatherMan, Tim Kelley &

Rob In Texas said...


Thanks, I'm very happy to hear that you like the blog!