Lolla Evacuation Goes Smoothly

A powerful thunderstorm rolled through downtown Chicago Aug. 4 forcing organizers to suspend Lollapalooza for more than two hours and evacuate tens of thousands of music fans into parking garages.

The evacuation ran smoothly, and the show resumed for evening sets only a little worse for wear, with schedules shuffled and only a few bands left unable to play, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning and Lolla organizers pulled the plug at about 3:30 p.m. in the interest of safety. An estimated 100,000 concertgoers were directed to shelter and most calmly left Grant Park for underground parking garages designated as evacuation shelters.

The evacuation order – announced from stages, flashed on giant video screens and broadcast via social media – reportedly took many fans by surprise, as the sky was still bright when it was given.

But, according to the Tribune, city, NWS and C3 Presents officials had been watching the skies carefully all weekend and, when the weather service notified the team around noon that storms were moving in faster than expected, the wheels went into motion.

The suspension and evacuation was agreed to between C3 Presents and city officials at a 2:30 p.m. meeting. An hour later, fans were directed to get out and take cover.

“They started lowering the LED screens, lowering the light setup,” one fan told the Tribune. “They started closing all the tents. Some of the staff members started going around telling everybody they had to get out.”

The NWS issued the severe thunderstorm warning for Cook County at 3:50 p.m. But by then, most fans were already out of harm’s way.

C3 Presents estimated that more than 60,000 festivalgoers and nearly 3,000 staff, artists and vendors left the park in 38 minutes. And despite the downpour that followed, the sold-out show was able to resume for evening sets and went on without a hitch the rest of the weekend.