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Thunderstorm warnings threaten P.E.I.’s Rock the Boat

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With severe thunderstorm warnings now in effect for Prince and Queens counties on P.E.I., organizers of the Rock the Boat Music festival are paying close attention to the weather. 

A line of storms moved across the Northumberland Strait into Queens County around 3:50 p.m., said CBC Meteorologist Jay Scotland. In addition to lightning, he said heavy rain is a major concern. 

“Please keep an eye on your basement and be prepared for washed-out roads,” he said. 

If people do hear thunder, they should go inside, and “not drive on submerged roadways,” he said. 

A rainfall warning remains in effect for King’s County in eastern P.E.I. 

A map of P.E.I. shows areas in red and areas in green, representing the locations of severe thunderstorms warning as rainfall warnings respectively.
Heavy rain is a major concern, with local flooding possible for affected areas, said CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland. (Jay Scotland/CBC)

The outdoor concert in Tyne Valley, about 70 kilometres west of Charlottetown, was set to get underway just before 5 p.m. with Great Big Sea’s Alan Doyle headlining later in the night. 

Rain and wind won’t put a damper on the concert but lightning in the area could mean delays, Jonathan Smith, the festival’s chair, said earlier Saturday. 

“As for lightning, we’re always in contact with emergency measures and have updates every 30 minutes from them, and we do have an evacuation plan in place,” Smith said. 

If lightning is in the area, an announcement will be made on stage, telling concertgoers to go back to their vehicles or campsites. 

“And we do have an area three minutes away that people can go stand in: the old schoolhouse in Green Park,” he said. 

‘Nobody is made of sugar’

If the lightning passes, the concert will resume, pending approval from the P.E.I. Emergency Measures organization. 

“Alan Doyle is going to put on a good show whether it’s rain or sunny. Nobody is made of sugar.” 

About 2,000 people are expected at the concert. Smith said people should bring a poncho and rain boots, but umbrellas aren’t allowed, as they pose a safety risk if there is lightning. 

Roughly 35 per cent of attendees come from off-Island, said Smith. 

“I think it’s going to be a great time, rain or shine.” 

If necessary, organizers will announce a cancellation or postponement on social media and on the radio. 

The festival’s parade was supposed to take place Saturday but has been postponed to Sunday at 10:30 a.m. 

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