Is it going to rain during ACL Fest? Here's the extended forecast for the show's first weekend
Pack your ponchos and grab your galoshes because the Austin City Limits Music Festival's first weekend could be soggy, according the National Weather Service.
Much like the ACL Fest's scheduled lineup of performers, the weather forecast is always subject to change without notice, but as of Wednesday afternoon, Friday has an 90% chance of rain — and that's on top of likely two straight days of showers before the first wristband-wearer arrives:
• Wednesday night has a 40% chance of rain, forecasters said, with daytime temperatures staying above 73 degrees.
• Thursday has an 60% chance of rain and a forecast high of 89. At night, a 70% chance of rain remains.
• Then on Friday, the opening day of ACL Fest, we're all but certain to see significant showers with a 90% chance of rain — but that will help keep temperatures below 84 degrees. Rain chances drop to 50% Friday night with temperatures staying above 70. Unfortunately, ACL Fest rules say no umbrellas are allowed.
• Saturday has an 80% chance of afternoon rain with a high of 83 degrees. Rain chances linger at 30% on Saturday night and temperatures stay above 70, the weather service said.
• Sunday has a 30% chance of showers with a high near 86. Then it's likely to be mostly cloudy Sunday night with a low around 67.
The possibility of rain comes at the end of what had been shaping up to be one of Austin's driest Septembers on record, according to weather service data going back to the late 1890s. As of Tuesday afternoon, rain gauges at Austin’s main weather station at Camp Mabry recorded only 0.1 inch, which is far below normal for this point in the month. September normally would have produced about 3.15 inches of rain by now.
But if you plan to go to Zilker Park this weekend, festival officials recommend monitoring the weather — and be ready to bring rain boots and a poncho.
When Austin is in between seasons, the weather can be influenced by low pressure systems, which allow air to rise, become unstable and produce storms. High pressure systems sat over Austin for much of September, contributing to the unusually high number of rain-free days with triple-digit temperatures this month.
But an invasion of a moisture-rich air mass from the Gulf of Mexico and a cold front arriving later in the week means ACL Fest will likely have a muddy first weekend.
The festival has seen its fair share of weird weather:
• In 2005, weather conditions were so dry at Zilker Park, with temperatures reaching 107, that attendees had to wear bandanas over their faces to protect themselves from the dust and sun.
• In 2009, heavy rainfall turned Zilker Park into a giant mud pit, with many fans making the best of it and playing in the mud between concerts — and that was after only 0.68 inch of rain fell over two days.
• In 2013, ACL Fest organizers canceled the last day of the festival's second weekend after flooding caused by overnight storms that dumped 4.22 inches of rain.
• In 2019, the festival's first weekend left many glazed in sweat after record-setting daily highs in the upper 90s. But the second weekend was the chilliest so far, with temperatures only reaching 65 degrees on Oct. 12.
• Although the weather was rain-free with temperatures mostly in the upper 80s to lower 90s, the coronavirus pandemic last year forced organizers to take the festival online.
Photos:ACL Fest through the years
ACL Fest organizers have said the event was moved to October, starting in 2012, for many reasons, one being to avoid extreme weather conditions.
But Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services medics are preparing for any health emergency, particularly heat-related illnesses — even with rain in the forecast.
If you're planning to attend the festival, avoid dehydration by keeping your alcohol intake to a minimum, EMS officials have said. Only water or drinks with electrolytes will keep the body adequately hydrated. Those on medications should take into account how their bodies might respond exposed to direct sunlight and high temperatures for extended periods.
ACL FEST HEALTH TIPS
Austin-Travis County EMS offers these tips if you’re heading to the Austin City Limits Music Festival:
• Hydrate the day before and during the festival.
• Drink plenty of water — avoid caffeinated sodas.
• Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
• Take frequent breaks in the shade.
• Visit the on-site medical aid tents if you are feeling ill.