Summer Storms - A Textbook Example

August 13, 2014   Last week we talked about Summer storms and how to use Intellicast to help predict (and avoid) them. As that edition was being finalized last Wednesday, a VERY strong and fast moving Summer storm ripped through Norwalk harbor with wind gusts of 54 MPH and "white out" conditions... Here are the details of that squall and a look at how specific internet websites and technology can help us predict and avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The storm moved quickly southward from Massachusetts, through CT and dissipated as it crossed the Sound. This is the view on Intellicast just before it hit Norwalk: [caption id="attachment_2464" align="alignnone" width="689"]Summer Squall 1 This Fast Moving Squall scored a DIRECT HIT![/caption]   This is the view of the Norwalk Cove weather station during the storm.  Note the Barometer falling as the storm approached, then shooting back up as it passed by. The wind graph indicates the lower wind after the squall cell has passed through.  The temperature dropped noticeably and the wind was eerily quiet just before the storm hit. It came in with a vengeance, quickly building whitecaps in the harbor which then had their foamy heads blown off as the strong wind frothed them into a wall of salt spray.   Summer Squall 2   Below is the SailFlow view of conditions at Cedar Point Yacht Club showing the dramatic spike in windspeed and 180 degree change in wind direction as the squall hits and passes by. Summer Squall 4 Here is a picture from the safety of the pilothouse on Independence as the Squall passes through. At the height of the storm, Independence, a 43 foot cutter, was heeling 20 degrees on her mooring and local visibility dropped to less than 40 feet. The shoreline and other boats on their moorings disappeared in "white out" conditions.   Summer Squall 5   Lessons Learned Prepare your boat like it could blow over 50 knots in 20 minutes.  Don't leave cushions, lifejackets or towels laying out. Watch the various websites and use these incredible aids to insure you aren't "surprised" by a fast moving squall line. It least keep a watchful eye on the horizon. Be prepared to ride out the storm. Pick up a mooring, drop your anchor, really think twice before running back into the "safety" of the Norwalk Islands if you are in the Sound. It may be much safer to stay in deep water, away from the rocks. Get in the lee of an island or the shoreline to lessen the effect of the wind and waves. Consider keeping a diving mask or ski goggles aboard. When the wind blows in the 50's with driving rain, you can't see! Know that it blows through quickly. Two hours later I went to the concert at the beach!   By Captain Rick Delfosse  203-216-7800 Rick is a Coast Guard captain, National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience.     .  

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