F1 race, UT game face bad weather conditions

AUSTIN, Texas— Emergency managers in Austin are in place keeping a close watch on the weather. If the downtown area gets pounded with rain, they say they have an evacuation plan.

When Juan Pablo Espinosa and his friends left Mexico City earlier this week for Austin, they knew about the rainy forecast, but didn't think they needed to pack a lot of bad weather gear.

"First we read that Sunday would be sunny, and now the forecast is, it’s going to rain a lot so, no we didn't expect that,” Espinosa said.

Thousands of race fans like Espinosa are expected to pack into downtown starting Friday night for the F1 festival on Rainey Street. They'll be joined on Saturday by thousands of football fans who will pack into DKR stadium as the Longhorns take on Kansas State.

Both groups will be watched by Emergency Management Coordinators, officials say. The work is being done at the Central Command Center in east Austin. Officials say they have a mass evacuation plan in place if a major weather event develops over downtown.

The plan, according to Commander Troy Officer, was originally drafted to handle the F1 crowd and is similar to how police clear out Sixth Street.

"The officers get on the hailing system, of course we need the cooperation of the people and we ask that they be proactive, and if they are told the weather is coming and they move out on their own, but it’s almost like our weekend street clearing,” Commander Officer said. “We make notifications go to the bars and try to get people move along.”

Every APD shift will be staffed at 100 percent, and the evacuation plan could also involve the use of CapMetro buses.

Longhorn fan Dave Phillips has his own bus. Phillips and others, who have rolled in for the game, say they are prepared for whatever may come Saturday.

“Yeah it’s not going to rain,” said a confident Phillips, as his wife handed him a rain poncho.

While the focus for the sports fan may be on having fun this weekend, emergency responders have spent the past 24 hours preparing for the coming storm. They're now ready and want everyone else to be weather-wise.

"I think just being conservative, realizing there is a real risk and that even the best forecast don’t actually predict when that is going to happen,” Chris Postiglione, with StarFlight, said.
There was a small-scale evacuation Friday afternoon. It happened at the Circuit of the Americas, where practice runs for the F 1 race were being held.  Lightning nearby led to fans being evacuated from the stands and told to seek cover.  The practice was eventually canceled.