Rain on the Ultra parade: Friday washout cancels Miami events

A glowing sign displayed at Ultra tells attendees to exit the festival due to inclement weather.

This was initially supposed to be published on Wednesday, Mar. 27 alongside the print edition.

On one of Miami’s most anticipated weekends of the year, rain and mud ruled, as thunderstorms swept through the city, delaying some of the weekend’s most sought-after events.

Miami Music Week’s Ultra Music Festival as well as the Miami Open and Miami-Dade youth county fair, were all delayed and canceled on Friday due to the inclement weather. Miami’s International Airport was also impacted as flights on Saturday morning were delayed for hours.

The storm, which raged throughout Friday afternoon and into mid-day Saturday, brought torrential downpours and heavy thunderstorms across the area, leaving music fans and locals equally drenched.

The National Weather Service issued multiple flood and tornado warnings for not just Miami-Dade County, but all of South Florida.

Ultra, a massively popular electronic music event annually held in Miami, was shut down Friday night around 9 p.m.

The festival had begun at 4 p.m. earlier that day, but after violent rain and wind plagued the first four hours of the event at Bayfront Park, it was shut down. Organizers cited lightning and strong winds as their reason to halt the festival for the night.

Ultra has never had to stop due to weather conditions since its inception in 1998.

“I’m definitely upset they shut it down. I was really looking forward to the set on Friday night,” said Jess Bucello, a junior chemistry major at the University of Miami. “It was a complete mess though, so it was probably the safest idea.”

Bucello is among the many university students who attended the festival Friday, but were ultimately left in disappointment. Her friend, Sophia Giovannone, a junior at the College of Charleston, had similar feelings.

“I came all the way down here for Ultra, got the three-day pass, then one of the days gets canceled? That’s not right,” Giovannone said. “I also don’t understand why they didn’t prepare for the rain.”

On Friday, festival-goers not only had to battle rain and winds but also mud and sludge created from the park grounds. These problems persisted when the festival was shut down, as tens of thousands of attendees flooded into Biscayne Boulevard, which is notorious for flooding, trying to find their way home.

In anticipation of problems at Ultra, the University of Miami’s senior vice president of student affairs, Pat Whitely, sent out an email early in the week imploring students attending the event to take proper precautions.

“We want to remind you that it is vital to remember that ‘’Canes Care for ‘Canes’ by looking out for one another and asking for help if you need it,” read the newsletter. “If you are planning to attend Ultra, create a plan to keep you and your friends safe.”

Whitely also advised students to hydrate, travel in groups and leave their valuables at home, among other tips for the weekend. Whitely was prompted to write the letter because of the many problems UM students have had at Ultra in recent years, including a student’s death in 2016.

Ultra resumed the next day at noon and organizers decided to extend the festival into that night to make up for the previous day’s shutdown. The festival then completed its final day on Sunday with no weather interruptions.

The Miami Open, a fan-favorite tennis tournament hosted at Hard Rock Stadium every year, was in its 5th day of competition when rain also brought the anticipated event to a halt. While the day’s competition was planned to begin at 11 a.m. Friday morning, the event was delayed until 5 p.m.

It was able to resume play at 5 p.m., but two hours later, the tournament had to be shut down for the night. The remaining matches were moved to Saturday, which would also be subjected to a three hour delay, but after resuming and extending play, the tournament is now fully caught up.

The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair, which has been set up in Tamiami Park since March 14, didn’t attempt to wait out the weather at all and was promptly canceled Friday morning. Organizers resumed the annual fair at 3 p.m. the next day.