Tornado at Sun n Fun 2011
Sun n Fun this year had some unusually bad weather. It was rare event, but people had some problems getting past weather to get to the show. Thus we were short some acts for the airshow on Opening Day on Tuesday. The air show on Wednesday was cancelled because of a storm that was moving into the area and would arrive about the middle of the show. Officials at Sun n Fun took the safety of the people attending as a priority and saw that they left the field before the storm hit.
Thursday morning was another story. Weather reports predicted precipitation at 80% and that combined with over 3” of rain in the preceding few days, was going to make it an interesting day. The Weather Channel on TV showed storms coming in from the Gulf of Mexico, moving past Tampa and towards Lakeland. There were Tornado watches until 1PM with Tornados being sighted a few miles north of the Lakeland area.
Keep in mind that the EAA at Oshkosh and at Sun n Fun are probably the best organized groups that ever put on an air show. They are prepared for about any contingency and this was one of them. The management team at Sun n Fun had saw to it that virtually all the planes on the field were tied down and they had crews out the day before selling tie down kits and seeing they were properly installed. There was a Tornado that touched down on the field at Sun n’ Fun (and I don’t mean a British attack jet either). There were a minimal number of aircraft damaged (and there are a few before and after pictures here) and I’m writing this about 3 hours after the storm and there were no serious injuries reported so far. The biggest potential for disaster many have been if anyone was in one of the many Port-a-Potties that were blown over.
The Lakeland PD and the local Sheriff’s Department were on the scene; they secured the area to prevent any further losses and sent everyone home in an orderly fashion. It was a job well done and the crew that runs Sun n Fun can take credit for containing and managing a potential disaster. You only wonder what might have happened if they were in charge of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, that may well have turned out a lot better. Our hats are off to you gentlemen. Thank you.