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Edmonton Airshow forced to cancel over wet weather: organizers

Snowbirds perform a special flyby for the Edmonton Airshow Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.
Snowbirds perform a special flyby for the Edmonton Airshow Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. Dave Carels, Global News

Nine days before the 2019 Edmonton Airshow was scheduled to take flight, organizers have cancelled the event, citing soggy conditions at the site where it was to be held.

“The persistent wet weather has saturated the fields used for airshow parking, causing significant operational and safety concerns,” organizers said of conditions at Villeneuve Airport in Sturgeon County.

“Ticketholders can keep their tickets for the 2020 airshow or receive a refund.”

Edmonton and surrounding areas have been receiving steady rounds of precipitation and sometimes even hail throughout the summer. On Wednesday, the fallout from the stormy summer even prompted officials in Lac Ste. Anne County, west of Edmonton, to declare a state of agricultural disaster.

READ MORE: Lac Ste. Anne County declares state of agricultural disaster

“We are deeply disappointed by this decision, but our No. 1 priority is the safety of our patrons, event partners and the community,” Richard Skermer, president and CEO of the Edmonton Airshow, said in a news release.

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“With more rain forecast over the next week, it is unlikely the fields will dry out in time, making parking safely almost impossible.”

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Event organizers said they fear going ahead with the airshow would result in “hundreds of stuck vehicles, with only mud-equipped vehicles able to park safely.”

Organizers expressed concern that stuck vehicles could cause unsafe traffic congestion on Secondary Highway 633 and Highway 44.

They also worried mud and ruts could pose an issue for emergency vehicles should they need to access the airshow site.

Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019.
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019. Courtesy: Edmonton Airshow
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019.
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019. Courtesy: Edmonton Airshow
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019.
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019. Courtesy: Edmonton Airshow
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019.
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019. Courtesy: Edmonton Airshow
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019.
Soggy conditions force cancellation of Edmonton Airshow, Aug. 7, 2019. Courtesy: Edmonton Airshow

“Organizers explored using shuttles, rig mats and sand to lessen the treacherous conditions throughout the site, but none of the options were feasible for cost and logistical reasons this close to the event,” the news release said.

Citing data from Environment and Climate Change Canada, airshow organizers said July 2019 tied for the third rainiest July in Edmonton in the past 50 years and that about 163 millimetres of rain fell in the area, well above the average of 94 mm.

READ MORE: Grapefruit-sized hail hammered Spruce Grove as thunderstorm swept across Edmonton region Friday

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of weather in central and northern Alberta in August 2019.

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“We advised the airshow organizers that due to significant rainfall, we cannot permit use of the fields for parking due to the risk of spectator vehicles, emergency and airport vehicles becoming stuck,” Steve Maybee, vice-president of operations and infrastructure with Edmonton Airports, which operates the Villeneuve Airport, said in a news release.

“We recognize that has led the airshow to its cancellation decision. We’re all disappointed.

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“We love the airshow and fostering that love with the community. We will continue to support the Edmonton Airshow and we look forward to it returning in 2020 and continuing to grow.”

Organizers of the Edmonton Airshow said they are already planning for the 2020 edition of the event.

For more information, click here.