S97 Investigations of hazardous weather preparedness at amusement parks

Sunday, 23 January 2011
William Gregory Blumberg, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and K. A. Kloesel and R. Edwards

Although most people are able to exercise general precautions for weather hazards, an enhanced threat exists in densely populated areas. Amusement park visitors experience an enhanced risk because of the outdoor exposure, operating seasons corresponding to climatological peak periods in severe weather, and dense crowds. For the past century, amusement parks across the United States have had close encounters with tornadoes, high winds, and lightning. Fortunately, records show only nine fatalities have occurred due to hazardous weather events at amusement parks in that time period. While the fatality count has been low, the potential for a catastrophic incident with large loss of life still exists. Currently, eight amusement park locations are certified as StormReady Special Communities. An investigation into similarities between the venues' severe weather plans and certification criteria will help to develop a model for future StormReady certification for amusement parks and to determine possible weaknesses in existing plans.
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