In a recent AP article, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana was quoted as saying that the blast of wind that toppled the stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair killing 5 people was a "fluke event".Read the rest of it for the meteorological details behind the Saturday night storm system. It certainly appears that officials could have done a lot more to prepare and prevent loss of life. This storm was no surprise. I'm guessing this editorial piece will end up being used in future court cases.
A "fluke" by definition is an unlikely chance occurrence. The destructive and deadly wind gust on Saturday evening in Indianapolis was no chance occurrence.
Let's stop bucketing meteorology and weather in general into some magical mystery science that can't be explained. When a tragic accident due to existing extreme weather conditions occurs, there is a notion to just throw your hands up in the air and say, "well, nothing could have been done to avoid this" or "nobody could have seen this coming" or "it was just a damn fluke". In many instances, that just simply is not the case and it wasn't the case in the tragedy at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Powerful, damaging winds were a known threat several days before and during the minutes leading up to the stage collapse.
Let's lay out the facts.
My family was at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA back in 2005 when the park announced that all the outdoor rides were shutting down because there was a thunderstorm 20 miles away. The park rule called for a stop to all rides anytime lightning was within 20 miles, and once the storm passed, no thunder could be heard for an additional 30 minutes before they'd open things up again. The storm came right over the park and we had quite a light and wind show for a few minutes. Bottom line - everybody was safe when it was over.
Just yesterday eight people were injured at Sea World in Florida when lightning struck. Lightning is very common in Florida, but I don't know if their park rules are less restrictive than what we had in Virginia.