The venue, which is in the Morrison area and operated by the City and County of Denver, wrote on their social media “We want to take a moment to acknowledge the severe weather event at Red Rocks last night and offer our sincere best wishes to everyone affected by last night’s storms across Colorado.”
Red Rocks first issued a weather delay when severe weather moved in earlier in the night. After that weather system passed the venue allowed people back in. Then another weather delay was issued due to a “fast-developing situation” and shortly after that large hailstones as big as 2 inches wide began falling from the sky. The concert was then canceled after chaos broke out and emergency teams responded to people who needed medical attention.
In response to Red Rocks’ Facebook post, one commenter expressed dismay about how the evacuation of the venue was handled. “At least install shelters to actually shelter in place. 10 minutes isn’t enough time to make your way out of a fully packed venue nor is it enough “warning”,” Aniela Johnson wrote.
Many people traveled to Colorado from far away to see Tomlinson perform Thursday, and Red Rocks also shared a comment for those people after the concert was canceled.
“We hope to see Louis Tomlinson and his fans back soon under clear Colorado skies – we know this was supposed to be a special night and many of you traveled long distances to be here, which makes decisions regarding the postponement or cancellation of shows even harder.”
What they’re saying: In a statement Thursday morning, the outdoor concert venue, which is run by Denver Arts & Venues, offered “sincere best wishes” to those affected and assured fans in a tongue-and-cheek manner it’s “having a little talk with Mother Nature about this weather business at Red Rocks.”
That didn’t go over well. Red Rocks received immediate backlash for what many perceived as a flippant response. Spokesman Brian Kitts defended it, however, telling Axios Denver that “weather is part of the experience.”
Kitts also said Red Rocks managers rely on contractor Skyview for guidance on National Weather Service forecasts, and attendees were warned of the weather threat as early as possible.
Justin Larson had purchased tickets for his wife and niece for the event. It was the group’s first trip to Red Rocks, and they were surprised at how relaxed and unconcerned the crowd and venue were about earlier weather alerts.
“Nobody left during the first alert,” he said.
When the second alert blared over a loudspeaker shortly after 9 p.m., he gathered his things and began to walk toward the venue’s stage right stairs.
The crowd moved slowly towards the exit. Less than 5 minutes later, he remembers, large pieces of hail began falling around them like “meteors.”
Concert attendees screamed and hid under trees and tried to get into concession booths, where some concertgoers said employees tried to block fans from entering while telling them to go to their cars for shelter. Video shows waterfalls of icy water and hailstones running downstairs during the event.
Other venues affected, and more severe weather on the way
Storms wreaked havoc on venues other than Red Rocks Wednesday night. A Colorado Rapids game got canceled. And hail pummeled most parts of the Denver Metro.
More severe weather is in the forecast Thursday night. Red Rocks officials say they plan to monitor conditions like normal ahead of the scheduled Shakey Graves concerts.
The National Weather Service says hail could fall in the Denver area again Thursday, with some of it severe. Severe thunderstorm warnings were in effect Thursday afternoon for the area around Red Rocks.
After the first delay, she said they were told the concert would resume, so people went back to their seats. Eventually, Criner said there was an official announcement that the venue highly recommended people to take shelter in their cars.
From there, she said it began to hail, first smaller pieces but an “extreme downpour” within five minutes, with pieces up to the size of golf balls. She and her sister found a sign and took cover under it.
Her glasses were swept away in the downpour, and she and her sister took refuge in a car that was passing by, offering those still outside shelter.
Criner said her dad had a rental car, and although the windshield didn’t crack, there was damage to the front and back bumpers.
“Most cars in the parking lot had hail damage,” Criner said. “Some windshields were shattered.”
She said she still plans to return to the postponed concert. Tomlinson, on tour for his latest album, “Faith in the Future,” has not yet announced a rescheduled date.
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