East Tennessee weather, especially during the winter season, is unpredictable, which can be a curse or a blessing for event planners.
One day you’re bundled in layers and a heavy coat, and the next week a long-sleeve T-shirt is sufficient to keep warm. Event planners know to be prepared for all types of weather in the winter months.
“It’s important to constantly check long-range forecasts,” said Mickey Mallonee, director of events at Historic Westwood.
The forecasts, of course, are not absolute in accuracy, as they are predictions, but it does allow planners to have a general idea of what the skies could hold that day.
If inclement weather does arrive the day of your event, event planners must be prepared.
“Tents are a must for outdoor events,” said Allison Teeters, executive director of Keep Knoxville Beautiful. “I always encourage weighting tents, rather than staking them, because of the chance of strong winds.”
Mallonee recommended avoiding metal poles for tents due to the risk of thunder and lightning, a not-unheard-of-event, even in winter months, in East Tennessee.
Portable heat sources also are a good idea, as they can be turned on or off, as needed. The curse for planners is wicked weather. The blessing is that an outdoor event held in January could still offer moderate temperatures and warm sunshine.
Teeters added that if an event will be held outdoors, that should be stressed on the invitation and website, so that attendees arrive with proper attire. Temperatures in this region can make a 30- to 40-degree swing within a week.
It also is advisable to have a backup place in case the weather becomes unbearable, such as a church auditorium or school gymnasium.
“I remember one time when former Mayor Victor Ashe had a city event held on Lyons View Pike, and the weather got too out of hand,” said Mallonee, who previously handled City of Knoxville events. “I ended up moving the event to a school gymnasium, and it worked out.”
The East Tennessee Foundation has its annual meeting scheduled this month for Jan. 27 and while the event is indoors at The Foundry On the Fair Site, the invitation included a snow date, if necessary, on Feb. 3 in case icy conditions or snow make road travel treacherous.
Unfortunately, there are times when a planner must cancel or postpone an event because of inclement weather and safety issues for attendees.
“If the decision has to be made to postpone an event, we like to be able to do that no later than the day before the event,” Teeters said. “Nothing is worse than getting up and getting ready for something that has been cancelled.”
When rescheduling an event, a planner should try to find a new date that accommodates attendees’ schedules to avoid overlap with upcoming events that are likely to draw a similar audience. In some cases, that may mean waiting several months.
“This is extremely challenging when you consider the number of events taking place in Knoxville on any given weekend,” Teeters said. “Sometimes, it is necessary to move things from one season to another.”
EventCheck Knox can assist planners in picking that new date, as the website is intended specifically for that purpose – to help prevent overlap of similar events seeking to attract the same attendees.
Stay warm and stay aware!
Michael Tremoulis, an intern at Moxley Carmichael, is a senior at the University of Tennessee studying public relations. He likes to daydream about meeting J.D. Salinger, smoking a cigar with Winston Churchill or sharing a beer with Jack Kerouac.