Memphis football stays on schedule despite rain threat

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Despite an expected deluge of rain from a tropical system moving into the Mid-South, the Memphis Tigers will play football as scheduled.

Memphis is set to take on Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

"We've got to be ready for wet weather, so that's what we're going to do," Liberty Bowl General Manager Thomas Carrier said.

Harvey, the hurricane that is responsible for massive flooding in Texas, is expected to be a Tropical Depression by the time it enters Memphis.

The storm's wind will not be the main danger; its rain will be. Harvey could drop as much as six inches of rain in parts of the Mid-South.

To prepare, Liberty Bowl official are working with state and county experts to put together a plan. The plan includes tracking forecast changes and making sure workers and supplies are at the ready to help clean up any mess the storm makes.

In the event of severe weather or lightning, Liberty Bowl officials will consider evacuating the stadium. If those conditions are within 30 miles of the stadium, precautionary measures go into effect. If those conditions are within 15 miles of the stadium, officials will consider starting an evacuation. If those conditions are within 8 miles of the stadium, it triggers a mandatory evacuation.

"Once we hit eight miles from the stadium, it is mandatory," Carrier said. "We do evacuate the stadium. We move the teams off the field, and we make sure everybody is in a safe location."

Memphis is encouraging fans to wear weather-protective clothing. Umbrellas are prohibited from the Liberty Bowl.

"We have been actively monitoring the weather and the remnants of Hurricane Harvey with our television partners, Louisiana-Monroe leadership, and the American Athletic Conference office," Athletic Director Tom Bowen said. "While the forecast calls for significant rainfall in the area, we will always follow safety protocols in the event of inclement weather. We encourage each fan to evaluate their individual situation and make a conscious choice to attend the game prepared for the elements."

Liberty Bowl officials said fans who decide to brave the elements should also be prepared to drive in dangerous conditions. Those fans should give themselves extra time to get to the game.

As for the team, they'll open the season against a Division I open for the first time in several years.

The Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, out of the Sun Belt Conference, have struggled lately, going 4-8 last season.

The one thing about ULM is, a lot of the players counted heavily on last season are low on the depth chart this year, giving them hope to make something happen.

Tigers Head Coach Mike Norvell knows the feeling.

"They're hungry," Norvell said. "They're going into year two. It's the same confidence we're talking about feeling, about understanding the concepts and the personnel that we have. It's the same thing that ULM has, it's the same emotions."

As a reminder, the stadium's clear bag policy will be in effect Thursday.

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