It stretches over 520 acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, animal shows, rides and more. How does an operation that’s the size and scope of Kentucky State Fair prepare for, and respond to, severe weather?
First, operations personnel activate something called the Emergency Operations Center or EOC. It’s a windowless room nestled between the North Wing and Freedom Hall.
Tim Postlehwait, Director of Access Control, describes the EOC. “On the walls we have property maps, screens, cameras going live, our gentleman from the weather service is here.”
That gentleman is John Gordon.
The National Weather Service alerts the fair’s operations staff if severe weather is coming — and if it’s bad enough, they come monitor it in person. That’s why on Tuesday, Gordon is camped out in the EOC watching radars on multiple screens.
“We’ve got a line of storms moving in right now from the west-northwest,” he warns. “Brief heavy rain, probably from about 4-6 p.m.”
The outdoor tents and stages are safe in winds up to 40 miles per hour. Anything more than that and tent operators will be told to move their patrons indoors.
But everyone in the EOC agrees that in the grand scheme of things, storms aren’t the most dangerous weather. This is Postlehwait’s 24th fair, and he says the danger is more temperature than tempest.
“There’s been years where we’ve had over 100-degree temperatures out here,” he says. “That actually causes more harm than some of the lightning and the wind.”
Tuesday evening’s storm should help cool things off. High temperatures are expected to stay in the 80s for the rest of the week.
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