Stormy weather floods Merriweather Post Pavilion, leading to cancellation of Halsey concert

Heavy rain and thunderstorms Wednesday night led to minor flooding at the Merriweather Post Pavilion outdoor concert venue and some concert attendees had to be evacuated to higher ground before a planned concert by pop star Halsey was ultimately canceled.

There were about 13,000 concertgoers in attendance.

There were no injuries to concertgoers or first responders, Howard County Fire Chief Louis Winston told reporters Thursday morning.

But fans were left soaking wet — and disappointed — and Halsey vowed on Twitter to play a makeup concert at a different venue, saying she was “beyond disappointed” with how the Merriweather Post Pavilion handled the weather cancellation.

The venue called off the concert just after 10 p.m. due to what it called “weather-related technical difficulties.” The announcement came over an hour after officials tweeted to guests that the show would resume at 9:30 p.m.

“These sorts of incidences are something that often (catch) people off guard,” Howard County Executive Calvin Ball told reporters during a news conference Thursday morning in Ellicott City after he was asked if he had any concerns about how the venue handled the severe weather.



“While canceling a show is never a simple or easy decision, the safety of fans, staff and artists and their crew always comes first,” a spokeswoman for the venue said in a statement provided to WTOP. “All parties involved wanted to provide the best possible concert experience for last night’s patrons. When the storm hit last night, everyone was provided cover and told to shelter-in-place. The storm struck more intensely and lasted longer than anticipated. It was everyone’s sincere hope that the show would go on, but ultimately the decision was made to cancel the show.  Ticket holders should keep an eye out for an email from Ticketmaster for all updates.”

The show began at 7 p.m. but entered a weather delay 30 minutes later after multiple weather warnings, including a tornado warning.

Over an inch of rain fell in the 15 minutes between 8:45 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday night, Ball said.

Some fans posted video up on social media showing parts of the venue — mainly in the seating bowl — starting to fill up with stormwater from the rain. Other videos showed the stormwater flowing down the stairs and into the bowl as fans waited for concert updates.

Winston told reporters Thursday that there were 21 career and volunteer members of the department providing standby emergency medical services.

After the heavy rain started pouring down into the pavilion area, “our crews were able to quickly get over there and assess that area and determined there was no imminent danger to the patrons that were under the pavilion at that time,” Winston said.

A footbridge on the property also flooded, but police were able to access the area and close it off.

In one fan video posted on Twitter, stormwater began to fall into the seating bowl and on guests who returned to the venue before the show’s cancellation.

In a statement on Twitter, Halsey said it would have been “unsafe if I went out there and people rushed the stage during or after the storm.”

However, in a second tweet, the pop artist said she was disappointed with how Merriweather Post Pavilion officials handled the weather issues, adding that a rescheduled date “will be happening somewhere else.”

Earlier in the day, Merriweather Post Pavilion’s social media account advertised that the show would go on “rain or shine” to multiple fans concerned about the upcoming weather conditions. On the FAQ section on its website, guests are asked to check the venue’s jumbotron for updates and to take shelter in their cars during extremely inclement weather.

The venue said fans would receive more information about refunds or a rescheduled show date from their ticket vendor.

WTOP has reached out to Merriweather Post Pavilion for further comment.

Jose Umana

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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