High winds cancel Space Needle fireworks; show won’t be rescheduled

SEATTLE — The Space Needle New Year’s Eve fireworks were not detonated at midnight because of high winds, staff said. It was the first time since 1999 that the plan was changed.

Seattle fire had said if there were sustained winds of at least 25 mph or gusts of more than 30 mph the show would be canceled for safety reasons.

At both 11:45 p.m. Tuesday and 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, sustained average wind speeds of more than 36 mph and gusts up to 44 mph were recorded at the top of the Space Needle, according to staff.

So instead, a 12-minute musically-choreographed light display happened at midnight to help celebrate the arrival of 2020.

Initially, the hope was that the winds would die down and the fireworks could start at 2 a.m. Jan. 1, but it was still too windy to proceed.

There was some confusion as to whether the show would be rescheduled. Spokesman Dave Mandapat told KIRO 7 he couldn’t speculate but that there could be a window for a fireworks show sometime Wednesday.

“We’d much rather fire the show than take them down undetonated," Mandapat said.

But a later tweet from the Space Needle early Wednesday said otherwise.

In a news release Wednesday, the Needle explained why the show would not be happening.

“The Space Needle strongly considered doing the fireworks display tonight or later this week, but due to pre-existing Seattle Police and Fire Department staff commitments this week and weekend, appropriate city resources were not available on short notice to ensure the safety of all attendees. PyroSpectaculars will begin removal of the pyrotechnics and props from the Space Needle today.”

ORIGINAL TEXT: Seattle fire officials are monitoring weather conditions as winds are expected on Tuesday evening that could potentially cancel the Space Needle’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show.

“According to our Fire Prevention Division, we continually monitor the weather during the day/evening of the event,” said Seattle Fire Department’s David Cuerpo. “We will cancel the fireworks display if there are sustained winds of at least 25 mph or gusts exceeding 30 mph within the hours prior to midnight (New Years Eve) to the event. This is a safety precaution.”

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The light show will still happen at midnight, officials said.

“It’s going to be tricky tonight at the Space Needle. The forecast sustained wind and gusts may force the fireworks show to be canceled,” KIRO 7 Meteorologist Nick Allard said.

A Wind Advisory goes into effect 10 a.m. Tuesday for the north interior through Wednesday morning for gusts up to 45 mph. Most areas will have south wind around 20-30 mph with gusts up to around 40-45 mph.

Allard said the peak wind gusts will be late this afternoon into the evening hours, which could mean trouble for the fireworks show.

“The steady rain will taper to showers this evening, so it won’t be as wet for the show, but it will still be wet. I also expect a chance for thunderstorms behind the cold front this evening and into the overnight hours,” Allard said.

Look for showers and breezy weather on New Year’s Day, with more rain and wind on Thursday.