The Georgia National Fairgrounds staff is keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Nate. Spokesperson Keaton Walker says in the fair's 27-year history, they've never shut down for a severe weather event, but crews on the ground told Yvonne Thomas they are prepared if this storm takes a turn for the worse.
“There's over 60 rides,” said Ricky Reithoffer, co-owner of Reithoffer Shows. They're bright, big, and ready for action, but if severe weather is in the forecast, their spinning tops may come to a halt.
“We've been in the path of bad weather before, but just like in years past, we're hoping this storm will kind of turn, tuck its tail, and go away,” said Keaton Walker with the Georgia National Fairgrounds.
But if Tropical Storm Nate doesn't pass or turn, Ricky Reithoffer with Reithoffer Shows says operators are ready to respond. “All rides have requirements at one point if you have to shut them down because the winds are too severe. We just monitor that we have the wind meters, most of the rides have wind meters built in to them.”
Reithoffer says against strong winds up to 40 miles per hour, most rides can stand tall on their own, but some may need a break. “Some of the tall ones like the seat rides, we'd shut down first.”
Keaton Walker with the fairgrounds says if the storm hits and rides are down, fairgoers can seek safe shelter inside their facilities. “We are also working closely with our EMA director and he kind of guides us and leads us in the direction where we feel most comfortable and what's safe for our fair visitors and goers,” said Walker.
Ricky Reithoffer says crews are in contact with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If the weather turns severe this weekend, they'll be notified in advance on how to respond.