Flash flood risk threatens to wash out SXSW events

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Fans and organizers of South By Southwest concerts are prepared to go on with the shows rain or shine, but flash flooding, lightning, or high winds could force them to make a decision on safety.

“We are a rain of shine event,” said John Kunz, the owner of Waterloo Records. Their parking lot was fenced off for their SXSW day party. “But if it is lightning, all bets are off. Obviously, we want people to be safe.”

In past years, Kunz said shows threatened by weather were moved inside Waterloo Records and they always try to accommodate the fans and musicians while also keeping them safe.

The City of Austin said Thursday the National Weather Service is taking part in briefings held three times a day at the city’s SXSW command center. According to Corporate Special Events Manager Bill Manno, early flood warning systems will be moved into the command center on Friday morning.

“We are planning on contingencies if there are any heavy rains on what can be postponed and what needs to be canceled,” said Manno.

The city can make the call on cancellations or postponements for events which take place on public property. If permits were granted for events on private property, the city still reserves the right to cancel or postpone events if they feel the weather could become a threat to public safety.

Decisions on other events taking place inside private venues will be left to the event organizer.

Another spot the city will monitor closely is Auditorium Shores where a weekend full of concerts are scheduled. Manno said heavy rainfall could threaten the safety of fans but also do damage to the new renovations at the shore..

“With the recent renovations, obviously the Parks and Rec Department will watch it real close so it does not get torn up too bad.”

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