Thousands were forced to evacuate Miami’s new concert venue Friday night before headliner Harry Styles could take the stage because of severe weather, prompting mayhem on the flooded streets of Watson Island as people scrambled to seek safety and find ride shares home.
DJ Mark Ronson and Lizzo were able to perform before the dangerous weather forced the Meridian to cancel Styles’s show. He was scheduled to perform at 10:30 p.m., the Miami Herald reported, but it wasn’t until after midnight that attendees were notified via a large screen onstage that they needed to leave.
“To those of you here in Miami, I was told there’s a severe storm on the way. The fire department would not let us do the show under any circumstances. Please stay safe,” Styles tweeted at 12:18 a.m. “I’m so disappointed, and I’m sorry.”
⚡ Lizzo, Mark Ronson, & Harry Styles were performing at the Meridian Island Gardens on Watson Island last night. Severe t-storms moved into Miami and shut the concert down. This is what people walked into just outside the venue.
— Brandon Orr (@BrandonOrrWx) February 1, 2020
Fans compared the entertainment disaster to the Fyre Festival and threatened to sue Pepsi, which sponsored the show. Two hours later, Pepsi announced on Twitter that all tickets purchased via Ticketmaster would be refunded. Pepsi also promised to cover the cost of ride shares from the show after the mandatory evacuation.
Styles had joined Lizzo onstage the night before for a duet of her song “Juice.”
The storm system that prompted the evacuation had produced damaging winds from the Keys across southwestern Florida before arriving in Miami, which caused officials to be especially vigilant in the city.
The violent, bowing storm complex formed Friday along the southern edge of a cold front pushing off the East Coast. At 8 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for all of South Florida and the Florida Keys.
The storms unleashed torrential rain, which led to areas of flooding, frequent lightning and high winds. The worst of the storms hit the Miami area just after 11 p.m., when the Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning and cautioned, “Thunderstorms will intensify across the metro areas of Miami-Dade County over the next hour or so. Wind gusts to 70 mph and brief isolated tornadoes will be possible.”
Around 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain fell in a short time. The heavy rain coincided with high tide in coastal areas, which worsened the flooding in low-lying zones.
“These are the complications of #sealevelrise. This is our future,” tweeted John Morales, chief meteorologist for the NBC affiliate in Miami.
The worst of the storm exited around 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
The Weather Service was forecasting additional stormy weather Saturday afternoon with the potential for more heavy rain and localized flooding. Lady Gaga was scheduled to perform Saturday night at the same venue that was evacuated Friday
For Super Bowl Sunday, sunny and tranquil but unseasonably cool weather is forecast in Miami, with highs only in the upper 60s.