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Late-week storms likely won't affect Three Rivers Festival

Executive Director Hammer says precautions being taken

Friday, July 19, 2013 - 7:46 am

As long as severe thunderstorms do not develop as part of the storm forecasted for later Friday and early Saturday, events at Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival will occur as planned.

Courtney Obergfell, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the rainfall should begin Friday evening, as a cool front meets with the warm and humid air Fort Wayne has endured all week long.

“The heaviest thunderstorms will be (Friday) evening into the early overnight hours,” Obergfell said. “It's a fairly decent cold front coming through, so there's a decent chance of severe weather.”

“We enjoy the relief from the heat and the party goes on,” TRF Executive Director Jack Hammer said of the rain. Aware of the upcoming forecast, Hammer said Friday night's concertgoers seeing “The Main Squeeze” should stay dry in Headwaters East.

“We hope people know what's right for themselves,” he said, adding that ponchos and umbrellas might be a good idea if the rain is heavy enough.

The raft race on Saturday, along the St. Marys River, is among the most highly anticipated events of the entire festival.

Rafts can be loaded 5- 9 p.m. today – barring any severe lightening – and from 6 a.m. Saturday in West Swinney Park. The race starts at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“We'll be keeping a constant vigilance,” Hammer said of the weather and water quality, though he explained a large rain and storm disturbance would be needed to hurt the fest or compromise water quality.

TRF officials are in contact with water safety experts who are testing the city's rivers for acceptable levels of E. coli bacteria.

Be it due to inclement weather, unsafe water conditions or any other issue, the raft race would be pushed back a week.

Obergfell said heavy rainfall is a likely possibility.

“It definitely could stir up the river a little bit,” she said. “Though, the rivers are below action stage right now, so they could handle the rain.”

“We want to have a good time and have fun, but we want to be safe and smart,” Hammer said.

The rainy forecast isn't all bad news.

Once the storm system passes, the heat will give way to cooler temperatures, with highs on Saturday projected to be in the mid-'80s and on Sunday around 80 degrees.