A look at those behind the curtain supporting Seafair

Aug 2, 2023, 10:46 AM


(Photo courtesy of Seafair)

(Photo courtesy of Seafair)

Seattle’s Summer Festival, Seafair, is underway and will reach the hydroplane finish line this weekend. Hundreds of volunteers support Seafair, starting with the Fourth of July Fireworks at Lake Union, providing assistance with tickets, medical, public safety, and other activities.

But behind the scenes is a group of volunteers called Emergency Management Group–Washington or EMG-WA. This group of professional and highly experienced volunteers provides a full range of emergency management services, including coordination with public agencies like law enforcement, fire, medical, and emergency management organizations, all focused on safety and security for Seafair.

More about Seafair: Seattle Seafair Festival 2023: When to watch Blue Angels, Hydros

EMG-WA also provides these services for other special events such as Special Olympics – Washington.

I serve as the EMG-WA meteorologist, providing current and forecast weather information to all involved safety and security support personnel. During the final days of Seafair, I also brief the air show participants, including the Blue Angels and other partner agencies, like the FAA, on expected weather conditions up to 15,000 feet in altitude each day.

Weather conditions like low clouds, rain, excessive heat, and poor air quality from wildfire smoke can have adverse impacts on the festivities. For example, if winds from the south are strong enough, an aircraft from SeaTac Airport needing to fly into the wind would have to approach the airport from the north, ending the temporary flight restrictions that support the air show and canceling the air show for the day. Other precautions are put into action for those days with hot temperatures, strong winds, thunderstorms, or rain as well.

EMG-WA uses what is called the Incident Command System (ICS) to manage each event. Internal groups like logistics, communications, command, planning, and finance/administration are implemented within EMG-WA.

Communication is a key component of using amateur radio volunteers and radio equipment to be able to share information from various supported locations. For instance, radio equipment at Genesee Park supports the hydro races and air show action, along with medical, first responders, and more, all shared with the EMG-WA Emergency Operations Center located at the Boeing EOC.

At the recent Seafair Triathlon at Seward Park, EMG-WA support resulted in the reunification of a 5-year-old boy who lost his mother. The boy found the medical tent and asked for help, and staff with radio communications found the mother, bringing her to her son.

More from Ted Buehner: Dry July continues trend of below-average rainfall in WA

Traffic Police and volunteer motorcyclists helped keep cyclists and others safe during the biking segment of the Triathlon. Medical volunteers helped those with any injuries.

These are the actions of Emergency Management Group – Washington and all the other agency staff and volunteers that help make Seafair and other outdoor special events safer and more secure.

Follow Ted Buehner, the KIRO FM news meteorologist on Twitter 

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A look at those behind the curtain supporting Seafair