Severe weather at NRG Park sends fans and families dashing for cover at Rodeo Houston

Nick Natario Image
Saturday, March 16, 2024
Severe weather at NRG Park sends fans and families dashing for cover at Rodeo Houston
Rodeo Houston fans and families run for cover when severe weather hit NRG Park on the final Friday evening of the 2024 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The final Friday afternoon of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo quickly turned from a fun family outing into a severe weather event.

ABC13 meteorologists declared a Weather Alert Day for Friday, anticipating severe storms in the late afternoon. Those storms materialized and moved toward the Houston area at about 4 p.m.

Nick Natario was reporting live at NRG Park at 4:37 p.m. when the sky turned dark, and roughly penny-sized hail started crashing down on rodeogoers, who ran for cover. The rain was so heavy at one point it nearly obscured anything from the view of our camera.

That escalated quickly! Rodeogoers ran for cover Friday afternoon as storms over NRG Park dumped heavy rain and hail on Weather Alert Day.

"It just came out of nowhere," Stephanie Saldana, who was caught in the storm, recalled. "We were just sitting down and it started pouring, but we did expect hail too. I lost my turkey leg, and I lost my sausage. It just flew!"

The deluge covered the carnival grounds, with standing water quickly becoming ankle-deep. Carnival rides were shut down with plans to reopen when conditions improved, according to rodeo officials.

RodeoHouston officials have contingency plans for severe weather, they told ABC13. No announcements were made on the grounds, according to Eyewitness News teams on the scene. There were no reports of any injuries.

At 5:16 p.m., RodeoHouston tweeted that the carnival was closed until the weather cleared. The stadium gates opened and the rodeo started on time at 6:45 p.m.

About a half hour after the rides were closed, RodeoHouston tweeted that the carnival had started to reopen some of the attractions.

As the storm passed, rodeo attendees seemed to be in good spirits, with many sporting ponchos over their Western wear.

This is the final weekend of the Rodeo Houston 2024 three-week run, capping off spring break week. The evening's entertainers are the Jonas Brothers.

With more severe weather expected, ABC13 Chief Forecaster David Tillman stressed that people need to be weather-aware if they're going to the rodeo.

"With this situation coming in this weekend, almost any time you get rain or a storm to come in, you need to get indoors," Tillman explained.

RodeoHouston sent ABC13 a statement about how it prepares for severe weather.

"Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and NRG Park staff use an extensive weather reporting service to ensure we are prepared. Security and emergency personnel constantly monitor weather conditions. In the event of severe weather, Rodeo officials will determine which, if any, safety measures are needed. These measures may include but are not limited to, closing any temporary venues such as tented structures, carnival and/or other outdoor venues, or complete grounds evacuation."

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