Red Rocks Ampitheatre’s big June hail storm: a timeline of how the chaotic night unfolded

In the mix: spilled nachos, an injured deer, a dead magpie, lightning strikes, fans teetering on unconsciousness and requests for shovels to clear the stage.
7 min. read
Medical crews at Red Rocks amphitheater treated 80 to 90 people who were injured during a mid-concert hail storm. Injuries ranged from cuts to broken bones.
West Metro Fire Rescue

Remember when hail pounded Red Rocks concertgoers during the Wednesday, June 21 concert by Louis Tomlinson (formerly of the pop group One Direction)?

Attendees squeezed into limited shelter from the storms. People broke bones, suffered head injuries and tripped over hail. They stumbled back from the venue to pummeled cars, only to be stuck in traffic, looking through broken windshields.  Some were taken to the hospital.

Concertgoers posted dramatic videos on social media of the chaos. The venue reevaluated its safety policies in the wake of the storm.

But Denverite wanted to know what happened behind the scenes that night. So we filed an open records request for the phone logs at the Red Rocks base operations center.

Here's what the phone logs show.

8 a.m. Staff set up the base operation center.

10:31 a.m. The bus parking lot had too much trash, and facilities staff drove over to remove it.

1:11 p.m. Somebody was climbing rocks near the east stairs of the venue, and security showed up to handle it.

2:45 p.m. Red Rocks gave a 15-minute warning to the public that the venue would be closing in advance of concert preparations.

3 p.m. The venue closed to the public.

3:03 p.m. Workers received a message from the venue: "If all staff could stay out of the bowl between those times, that would be wonderful. Thank you for your cooperation."

3:30 p.m. Sound check began.

5:01 p.m. Skyview, the company Red Rocks contracts with for weather forecasting, issued a warning of caution: showers were sprinkling down west of the venue, but there was no lightning.

5:40 p.m. Security provider Argus helped a patron at the top gate who was struggling to maintain consciousness.

5:42 p.m. Skyview declared a risk of lightning for up to an hour 1.5 miles to the northwest of the venue.

5:51 p.m. A patron at the south gate felt like she was going to pass out.

6:03 p.m. Lightning cleared.

6:15 p.m. Rangers found an injured deer next to the Red Rocks Trading Post.

6:30 p.m. An audience member in row 46, seat 105 had an ankle injury.

6:37 p.m. Another patron at the south gate felt like she was going to pass out.

6:40 p.m. Workers had scanned 3,300 tickets, and the venue was 42% full.

6:42: p.m. Storms in Boulder were staying to the north of the venue. Skyview noted that later in the day storms could develop in Denver but would likely stay clear in the foothills. The company added: "Can't completely rule out weather later."

6:49 p.m. Somebody found a dead magpie in the middle of the lower north lot.

7 p.m. The show started with 4,750 tickets scanned and the venue at 59% capacity.

7:08 p.m. A total of 5,000 tickets had been scanned, and the venue was 62% full.

7:18 p.m. A patron was "not doing well" in Row 62, outside the north stairs.

7:22 p.m. Medics showed up to row 64, looking for the "situation."

7:30 p.m. Lightning struck six miles to the northwest of the venue. Skyview warned: "Not close enough for delay, but *CAUTION*" The storm was moving very slowly.

7:53 p.m. Lightning struck 3.5 miles northwest of the venue. Skyview declared a 60- to 90-minute lightning risk.

7:55 p.m. Despite the lightning, guests continued to arrive. 5,974 tickets were scanned, and the venue was at 75% capacity.

8 p.m. Somebody spilled nachos on the south stairs at Row 7. Workers arrived to clean up the mess.

8:03 p.m. Denver Police Department ran out of soap. Workers restocked the supply.

8:04 p.m. Base operations declared a weather delay and told patrons to seek shelter.

8:21 p.m. Argus opened the Rock Room, a 200-seat event center.

8:30 p.m. Skyview declared "All Clear." The last lightning strike was four miles from the venue, and the storm was moving away.

8:31 p.m. Base operations declared an "All Clear." The concert resumed.

8:43 p.m. Workers came to the Argus check-in to pick up more trash.

8:58 p.m. Lightning struck five miles to the north. Skyview announced there was a risk again.

9:01: Argus announced "Attention Red Rocks -- lightning warning. Seek Shelter."

9:09: Base operations notified the venue: "Weather delay. Please seek shelter." A weather alert appeared on the venue screen.

9:14 p.m. Skyview notified base operations: "Very dangerous storm moving quick." It was 5-10 minutes out from the venue. Two- to three-inch hail was pounding down two miles to the west.

9:15 p.m. "DANGEROUS STORM INCOMING -- PLEASE SEEK SHELTER," the venue told staff.

9:27 p.m. Medics were requested at the cross-over tunnel.

9:30: A person with a head injury waited for help at the stage right door. More medics were sent out to respond to injuries.

9:31 p.m. A patron with a wounded hand came to security.

9:35 p.m. Backstage flooded. Water flowed toward an electrical panel.

9:35 p.m. Medics at the backstage door requested backup to take people to the hospital.

9:40 p.m. Stagehands requested shovels to clear hail from the stage before the concert could resume.

9:45 p.m. Colorado Transport was asked to pick up patrons with disabilities. The answer: "Not currently -- roads too icy."

9:45: A concertgoer sheltering in the Rock Room passed out.

9:48 p.m. A patron began to lose consciousness and needed medical attention.

9:57 p.m. A silver Lexus SUV arrived for medical pickup.

9:59 p.m. Denver police headed to the upper south accessible lot.

10 p.m. A vehicle blocked the road by a parking lot near the hiking trail.

10:07 p.m. A Black Volkswagen arrived for medical pickup.

10:13: A red Chevy Cruze arrived for medical pickup.

10:18 p.m. A white Honda Pilot arrived for medical pickup.

10:23 p.m. The venue announced to staff: "Show officially postponed -- please check all nooks and crannies for any patrons that may have been hiding from hail and/or may be injured."

10:30 p.m. The Red Rocks tow company was en route to help move cars.

11:01 p.m. Stagehands were still looking for shovels, this time to help clear the way for loading.

11:36 p.m. Skyview announced a severe thunderstorm warning. One-inch hail and winds up to 60 miles per hour were likely until midnight.

June 22, 1:38 a.m. Base operations announced it would be signing off.

By the end of the night, nearly 100 people sustained injuries. Not all of them were documented in the logs.

The next morning, Red Rocks took to Twitter and wrote a string of posts:

On June 27, concert promoter Live Nation posted: "Due to scheduling issues the Louis Tomlinson show at Red Rocks that was due to take place on June 21, 2023, cannot be rescheduled this year and the decision has been made to cancel the show."

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