UPDATE, 10 a.m.
The Baton Rouge Blues Fest has delayed all outdoor performances "until further notice," after severe weather rolled through the area on Saturday.
The festival was set to begin at noon on Saturday and run until 10 p.m.; no announcement has been made regarding the Sunday schedule.
Indoor busking performances begin at noon in the Louisiana's Old State Capitol Rotunda.
Check back for updates.
Despite a foreboding weather forecast of possible tornadoes and hail along with a flash flood warning for southeast Louisiana through Saturday evening, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival is expected to run as planned this weekend pending any further announcements, organizers of the event said.
Much of South Louisiana, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes, are at an "enhanced" risk for severe thunderstorms beginning early Saturday. Between 2 and 4 inches of rain is expected, said Bob Wagner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, with some areas seeing as much as 6 inches.
The main threats with these storms will be damaging wind gusts, the possibility of tornadoes, heavy rainfall with localized flooding and frequent lightning. Wagner said winds are expected to reach 15 to 25 mph Saturday, but could strengthen to 65 to 70 mph with the development of severe thunderstorms.
“There’s certainly the potential for tornadoes on Saturday, and it’s not out of the question that they could be strong,” Wagner said.
Flood warnings were issued along the Mississippi River from the Red River Landing in northern Pointe Coupee Parish to Baton Rouge beginning Friday and are expected to remain until 1 a.m. Sunday, but the storms are expected to dissipate by Sunday, with forecasters saying they are expecting sunny weather to return to the area.
While a cold front started to move in on Friday, Wagner said, Sunday is “when we’ll really notice it” with highs in the low 60s.
The city-parish made sandbags available Friday afternoon in response to the severe weather. A full, updated list of locations can be found at http://gis.brla.gov/emergency.
Despite the forecast, Clarke Gernon, president of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, said Friday afternoon organizers have not made any changes to their schedule but are monitoring the weather closely. He said they'll alert people of any changes via social media and their website.
The most likely change would be a rain delay, Gernon said. In the past the festival has moved some performances indoors due to inclement weather.
Some Blues Fest events are already scheduled to take place inside the Old State Capitol building, so those will definitely proceed on schedule.
The free festival is set to run from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, featuring multiple stages of musical performances across the downtown area, along with musician interviews, arts and food. Performers this year include Kenny Neal, Marcia Ball, Samantha Fish, Henry Gray and Flat Duo Jets.
On Thursday, organizers said that headliner Mavis Staples had cancelled her appearance. Staples, who was supposed to perform at 8:15 p.m. Saturday on the LA 1 Stage in Repentance Park, will not perform due to news of the death of her sister, Yvonne.
A replacement for Staples had not been announced as of late Friday afternoon.
Additional lineup changes include the cancellation of performances by Bobby Powell and Hezekiah and the Houserockers "due to unforeseen circumstances," according to the release. DJ Swamp Boogie will replace Powell at 1:45 p.m. Sunday on the Soul of BR stage.
Festival organizers have said in press releases and on its social media platforms that organizers are "currently working with city officials to monitor weather conditions, and will update social media channels and website as decisions are made in regards to public safety." The release also said that "lineup and performance times are subject to change."
Festivalgoers are encouraged to visit batonrougebluesfestival.org to keep up with any changes.
The last time the Blues Festival made changes due to weather was in 2015, when performances were moved inside the River Center due to weather conditions.