Last weekend (not this past but about 10 days ago), we had some pretty severe weather. On Friday in particular, there was a weird one-day storm (Thursday was pretty nice, Saturday afternoon/evening was gorgeous with a cloudless sky and crystal clear night with a huge full moon). We had a bunch of tents out on the field, and we made it a point to check on each of them on Saturday morning to ensure there was no structural issues with them after the storm (trees fallen on them, stakes pulled out of the ground, pooling and ponding in the canopy, etc. Most tents are rated up to 60-70 mph, so anytime wind gusts approach that level, it’s a concern, and we rental guys lose a bit of sleep when we hear the wind howling outside the bedroom window.
This brings up a good opportunity to discuss the impact of the weather on tents in particular. Nobody wants to get a call from their event planners saying that the rentals company is refusing to install the tent for their event. During the last few hurricane scares on the island, we worked extra hard to ensure that we did not react prematurely. While many competitors just shuttered their doors, leaving their clients hanging, we vigorously watched weather reports and communicated with our clients for those weekends, making sure they had the most opportunity to keep their events intact, and that we still provided service to them in a reasonable manner.
One of the main questions we get during a time like this is, “at what point will you not be able to put up a tent?”. The main determining factor is the following distinction: storm vs depression.
Tropical Storm vs Tropical Depression
If the island of Oahu is under tropical storm warning (meaning a storm is imminent), we are not allowed to install any tents or keep any tents up. It’s nothing personal, just an insurance thing. The insurance companies have told us that IF a storm were to hit, and IF the tent uprooted and caused damage or loss of life, the incident would not be covered by the insurance company. The difference between a storm and depression is mainly the wind speeds. A depression is a lower grade storm (two categories below hurricane), and has 38 mph winds or less. A storm is just one grade below hurricane, and has winds between 39-79 mph. And a hurricane, well, everyone knows a tent in a hurricane is just a civilian surface-to-air missile waiting to happen.
Here are a couple images and videos of what wind can do to tents:
Here’s one at the Rose Bowl.
Notice that while the cheaper pop up tents got thrashed, the more industrial highpeak tents were windblown but still stood firm.
This one shows what happens when 78 mph winds hit a food-and-wine show in Newport. When you see the photo, you’ll think to yourself, “what? They’ll fix that!?!” Yes, we’ve had to do it before too. The show must go on, and damage to tents can be repaired quickly with the tents rebuilt if you have a strong company to do it.
If you want to brief yourself on storm terminology for the next time foul weather hits, check out NOAA’s glossary of terms here.
Let’s hope for sunny skies in 2015!