Bad Times in Mobile

Cement_Shoes

Super Anarchist
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A to Z
nbcnews is reporting now that a second body has been found. 2 confirmed dead with 5 believed to still be missing.

excellent job by puffy and the rest of his crew to get through the storm in good condition and then rescuing fellow sailors from the water.

a nightmare situation to get so many small boats get caught by a big quick moving storm in open water. i hope we gwt some good news concerning the missing sailors.

 

PuffyJman

Super Anarchist
3,659
7
panhandle fla
The sailors we rescued yesterday were all wearing PFDs, they stated that the two victims were also wearing PFDs. The chop on the bay was so incredibly steep that it may have contributed to them drowning as the water was constantly breaking over their heads. Ironically one overboard sailor survived a three hour ordeal without a PFD. I'm not advocating against wearing life jackets I'm just telling you what I know that happened yesterday.
Props to you Puffy and your team yesterday for making a difference when you could have chosen to head to safe harbor. It sucks getting caught out there but it sucks more when fellow sailors go right by someone in the water and either don't hear their calls for help or ignore them. Great job being willing to risk your own safety for that of another in peril. We need more of you!
I learned this morning that the two gentlemen that drown on the Cal were down in the cabin putting on their PFDS when the boat went down. They did surface and huddled in with the other crew members but succumbed to either hypothermia or drowning but they haven't recovered the bodies yet that I'm aware of so it's just hearsay at this time.
 
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sidmon

Super Anarchist
1,179
125
Chicago
(reposted from the wrong comment thread after getting my head out of my ass...)

My first experience with what I learned to call a "Green Sky Monster" like this was on Pensacola Bay in May 1972. On a Hobie 14. Alone. Turtled. Always have felt kinda lucky to be alive since.

Paraphrasing an old aviation mantra..."I Learned To Respect The Weather From That"

That stretch of the Gulf Coast is notorious for quickly enhancing bowing segments that can turn into a no joke derecho this time of the year. The storm yesterday could well qualify:

yesterday.gif


SPC had the area outlooked in "SLIGHT" (yes, Dry, I know about the new SPC categories). By 0930 local SPC had issued a Mesoscale Discussion for the potential of rapidly strengthening storms getting into the Mobile area:

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0452
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0935 AM CDT SAT APR 25 2015

AREAS AFFECTED...SERN TX INTO LA AND SRN MS

CONCERNING...SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 109...

VALID 251435Z - 251630Z

THE SEVERE WEATHER THREAT FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 109
CONTINUES.

SUMMARY...THE SEVERE THREAT IS MOVING MOSTLY OFFSHORE THE UPPER TX
COAST THIS MORNING...WITH A DEVELOPING THREAT ACROSS MUCH OF SRN LA
INTO SRN MS LATER TODAY. THE PRIMARY SEVERE THREATS ARE DAMAGING
WIND AND LARGE HAIL...AND ANOTHER WATCH IS LIKELY DOWNSTREAM ACROSS
LA AND MS.

DISCUSSION...CLUSTERS OF STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS CONTINUE TO MOVE
RAPIDLY EWD ACROSS SERN TX INTO SWRN LA WITH LEADING OUTFLOW
BOUNDARY. WHILE SOME CELLS MAY BE CAPABLE OF HAIL OVER SERN TX
BEHIND THIS BOUNDARY...OVERALL THE SEVERE THREAT IS DECREASING.

THE MAIN SEVERE THREAT IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP AHEAD OF THE OUTFLOW
BOUNDARY FROM SRN LA INTO SRN MS/AL WHERE HEATING WILL LEAD TO
ADDITIONAL DESTABILIZATION WITH AMPLE MOISTURE AND DEEP-LAYER
SHEAR/FLOW IN PLACE. THE STRONG MEAN-LAYER FLOW AND RELATIVELY STEEP
LAPSE RATES ALOFT GIVEN THE MOIST AIR MASS WILL FAVOR BOTH DAMAGING
WINDS AND LARGE/DAMAGING HAIL. THIS ACTIVITY WILL LIKELY EVOLVE OUT
OF THE ACTIVITY OVER SWRN LA AND JUST OFFSHORE.

..JEWELL.. 04/25/2015


ATTN...WFO...MOB...JAN...LIX...LCH...

LAT...LON 29679360 31069231 31679046 31848845 31458780 30958764
30488751 30208761 29718767 29118797 28888915 28989085
29449246 29419339 29679360

The Area Forecast Discussion from the Mobile NWS Forecast Office had already been pondering the prospects of two lines of sweeping through their County Waring Area as well. But, as is the case in many NWSFO's the Marine segment is generic and lame. The problem is that in most offices one forecaster is charged with both the Aviation and Marine responsibility.

In subsequent AFD's, you can see that Aviation was given continued focus while the Marine statement was never updated from its original generic context. That is unfortunate. Perhaps its time that in areas of heavy boating interests, organizations such as yacht clubs, Boat US, etc put more attention to outreach with the boating public and the NWS. The hardworking souls of the NWS will tell you they are eager to hear about the needs of their customers. Also, sadly, many folks don't know what they produce to help make for a safe day on the water.

We have become too enamored with "GRIBS" "TWA's" "XM Radar", and other supposed tech-no miracle weather products. Sailfow shouldn't be your only wx source. We have lost sight with a sharp "Weather Eye" cast towards the fundamentals of weather that sailors of yore possessed (same thing has happened with Navigation too -Vestas- but thats grist for another day)... :

http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=MOB&issuedby=MOB&product=AFD&format=CI&version=1&glossary=1

FXUS64 KMOB 251001
AFDMOB

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOBILE AL
501 AM CDT SAT APR 25 2015

.SHORT TERM...(TODAY THROUGH MONDAY)...FOR TODAY THROUGH TONIGHT...
WITH RAIN ONGOING...HAVE TO BE BRIEF. A PASSING UPPER SYSTEM WILL
BRING RAIN TODAY. WITH UPPER SUPPORT AND PRETTY GOOD WIND
SHEAR...SOME MAY BECOME SEVERE...ESPECIALLY OVER AREAS ALONG AND
NORTH OF HIGHWAY 84 THIS MORN. AS THE DAY PROGRESSES...AND THIS ROUND
OF RAIN ENDS...HEATING IS EXPECTED TO OCCUR...UPPING THE INSTABILITY
AVAILABLE AND CREATING A SECOND CHANCE OF RAIN TODAY. WITH BACKING OF
THE LOW LEVELS WINDS TO SOUTHWEST...WIND SHEAR WILL DECREASE...BUT
THE RISK OF STRONG TO SEVERE REMAINS FOR THIS AFTERNOON INTO THE
EVENING HOURS.

FOR SUNDAY THROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT...A LOBE OF ENERGY SWINGS SOUTH
AROUND THE WEST SIDE OF AN UPPER SYSTEM MEANDERING AROUND OFF THE NEW
ENGLAND COAST...DRIVING A SURFACE FRONT TOWARDS THE FA SUNDAY...AND
TO THE COAST BY MONDAY MORN. WITH UPPER RIDGING OVER THE MISS RIVER
VALLEY AS AN UPPER LOW MOVES EAST OVER THE SOUTHERN ROCKIES...PUSHING
AGAINST THE AFOREMENTIONED UPPER SYSTEM OFF THE NEW ENGLAND COAST.
THE RESULT FOR SUNDAY IS TEMPS WELL ABOVE SEASONAL...WITH SOME AREAS
SEEING THE FIRST 90S OF THE YEAR. SUNDAY NIGHT...A WEAK FRONT MOVES
ACROSS THE FA TO NEAR THE COAST...MEETING A TRAILING FRONT LEFT BY
TODAY`S SYSTEM. THIS WEAK FRONT DOES HELP TO COOL THE NORTHERN HALF
OF THE FA....BUT OVERNIGHT TEMPS REMAIN ABOVE SEASONAL.

MONDAY...THE SOUTHWESTERN SYSTEM MOVES OVER THE SOUTHERN PLAINS...AND
WITH A SURFACE LOW TRYING TO ORGANIZE OFF THE TX COAST...
SOUTHEASTERLY FLOW OVER THE GULF BEGINS TO STRENGHTEN THE SURFACE
BOUNDARY ALONG THE NORTHERN GULF COAST. AFTER A SHORT DRY SPELL...AN
INCREASE IN CLOUD COVER WILL HELP TO LIMIT HEATING AND KEEP DAYTIME
HIGHS CLOSER TO SEASONAL...ESPECIALLY OVER WESTERN PORTIONS OF THE
FA...ALONG WITH BRINGING THE NEXT CHANCE OF RAIN BACK TO THE AREA.

.LONG TERM...(MONDAY NIGHT ON)...MONDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY...THE
UPPER SYSTEM OVER THE PLAINS MOVES EAST...OPENING AS MORE ENERGY
DIVES SOUTH OVER THE NORTHEASTERN CONUS. A SURFACE LOW ORGANIZES
MONDAY NIGHT OFF THE TX COAST AND MOVES EAST...SOUTH OF THE NORTHERN
GULF COAST WITH THIS SET OF GUIDANCE. WITH THE SLOW EASTWARD MOVEMENT
OF THE UPPER DYNAMICS...AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF RAIN IS EXPECTED.
RUNNING FROM LATE MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY...THIS WILL HELP TO LIMIT
THE DIURNAL TEMP RANGE AND KEEP DAYTIME HIGHS WELL BELOW SEASONAL AND
OVERNIGHT LOWS AROUND SEASONAL FOR THIS SECTIONS OF THE FORECAST.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT...THE MEDIUM RANGE GUIDANCE
DIVERGES. THE ECMWF TAKES THE FORMER SOUTHWESTERN CONUS ENERGY AND
THE ENERGY DIVING SOUTH OVER THE EASTERN CONUS...MERGES THEM AND
ORGANIZES ANOTHER UPPER LOW OVER THE CAROLINAS AND TAKES IT EAST
OVER THE OPEN ATLANTIC. THE RESULT FOR THE FA IS STRONGER...COOLER
NORTHERLY AIR MOVE OVER THE FA. THE GFS IS ADVERTISING A PIECE OF
THE UPPER ENERGY BREAKING OFF AND FORMING AN UPPER LOW OVER THE
SOUTHERN PLAINS...WEAKENING THE NORTHERLY PUSH. BOTH ARE ADVERTISING
TEMPS DROPPING BELOW SEASONAL LEVELS. THE GFS ENSEMBLE MEAN IS ON THE
HIGHER SIDE OF GROUP...SO WENT IN THE MIDDLE...WITH NUMBERS CLOSE TO
THE OPERATIONAL GFS. 50S RETURN TO THE OVERNIGHT TEMPS AND DAYTIME
HIGHS IN THE 70S EXPECTED.

FRIDAY THROUGH SATURDAY...THE DIFFERENCES CONTINUE...WITH THE ECMWF
ADVERTISING A COOL...POST SYSTEM SURFACE HIGH MOVING EAST OVER THE
SOUTHEASTERN CONUS AND THE GFS ADVERTISING THE UPPER LOW THAT
ORGANIZED OVER THE PLAINS MOVES OVER THE FA. FORTUNATELY...BOTH ARE
ADVERTISING TEMPS AROUND OR A BIT BELOW SEASONAL...WITH RAIN NOT
EXPECTED.

&&

.MARINE...A MODERATE SOUTHEASTERLY FLOW WILL TURN SOUTHWESTERLY
TODAY AS A WARM FRONT MOVES NORTHWARD ACROSS THE COASTAL WATERS. A
MODERATE SOUTHWESTERLY FLOW WILL THEN PERSIST THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT
BEFORE BECOMING LIGHT SUNDAY. WINDS TURN SOUTHEASTERLY MONDAY AS
ANOTHER FRONTAL SYSTEM APPROACHES THE AREA. A MODERATE NORTHWESTERLY
FLOW THEN DEVELOPS TUESDAY NIGHT IN THE WAKE OF A COLD FRONT.

&&

 
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Rail Meat

Super Anarchist
7,193
175
Mystic, CT
We had just finished on a Tripp 26 and threw the kite up for the ride back to FYC when it hit us. According to the Ft Morgan weather station there was an initial gust of 62 followed by 20 min of 50 then over an hour where it was over 30. We were fortunate to have a boat full experienced sailors that didn't panic and did what it took to secure the boat and ride the storm out.

When it had settled down we threw a blade up and proceeded to head to FYC when we spotted three sailors floating, we rescued them and had learned they were sailing a Cal 24 that turtled and sank. They were in the water for more then an hour and were in shock as they lost 2 crew to drowning. We got them safely back to FYC.

My thoughts and prayers to the families of victims of this tragedy.
Respect. Job well done.

 

Callahan

Anarchist
768
43
That video is scary. NOT because of the storm but the total lack of diligence. 1st scene- crew remarks it is going to be a bad one. No one has a PFD on. No lifesling on the rail. Some crew go below. Everyone should have had a PFD on, not the crappy ones they put on later in the video. The boat should have had a life sling and a heaving line at minimum.

Later in the video the storm hits and you see a 24-25 footer with main up in obvious distress. Not much they could do since they were not prepared. Hope the smaller boat is o'k.

It appears that is was an 18 mile race and then return trip to Fairhope. Mobile Bay is only 10 mile wide but I would guess that the 4-6 foot short wavelength steep waves brought on by a storm like this are impossible to navigate in a small boat like the dinghys and beach cats entered in the race.

I am sure some locals from the area will weigh in and correct any errors in my post. I have only sailed Mobile Bay twice.

 
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Squirmy

New member
47
0
First off, deeply sorry to hear about this, but not surprised after living, working outside and sailing in the US South for 25 years. Huge shoutout to puffyjman for their rescue.

Second; +1000 to DryArmour and sidmon's posts. Frontal severe weather is a big deal and you can usually see it coming from far away, either through reading the sky or the forecasts. I have never personally run a regatta but if I did I would probably be overly cautious about sending people out when severe weather is forecast. When I am making decisions at work we just don't go to remote parts of the Everglades when severe weather is forecast. I worry more about pop-up stuff that can be pretty gnarly with short warning.

The NWS weather discussion is a great tool if you know how to read it. I can't imagine going out anywhere significant just looking at a site with a pretty little icon with a sun for 1000 or whatever. I like knowing the entire synopsis; what is the weather pattern going to be for the next 24-48 hours. The NWS forecast discussion gets this stuff right almost always, but the timing is often off. Timing can make a huge difference: weather experience in the area, radar, etc is invaluable for gauging what is happening right now.

 

sidmon

Super Anarchist
1,179
125
Chicago
There is alot of good info to be had from the local NWS offices and the Storm Prediction Center long before an actual Warning is issued. But only God Himself was privy to exactly how those storms would evolve across Mobile Bay in the space of three hours.

(full disclosure, I use such info for work...and in fact was yesterday) ... What knowledge was available hours before, was the threat of a very rapidly modifying squall line rushing through the area with high surface winds as the particular threat.. Could the NWS have done a better job of conveying that threat? It appears so. Hence my suggestion that more efforts to connect the boating public to the local NWS offices like the one at the airport in Mobile need to be made. The NWS folks could follow the example of Amy Seeley of the Romeoville NWS Office who has been been doing just that in the Chicago area for years.

As for the "Weather Eye" aspects of those storms yesterday... Fast moving "forward propagating MCS's" to use the technical term are particularly difficult to actually "see" coming. I am betting that most would say they really didn't notice much except for a thickening of the haze to the west and northwest, then the usual alerts on the VHF, followed by Armageddon "out of nowhere!" Note for next time. If you see that term used on the Gulf Coast on a pretty Spring Saturday...Beware.

Also, the tragedy highlights the limitations of using radar as a forecasting tool even in the short term. Due to the very rapid advance and evolution of such storms the last image you get through that Garmin isn't likely to give you a heads up of whats coming up due to the highly complex forces causing the growth and decay of such storms.

Looking at the first 2 images below, you get no sense of the bow echo that formed and swept across the bay. Not engaging couldah wouldah shouldahs here...well ok, the first two...It was entirely possible to know that as those storms approached, to know that they were in effect as dangerous as a coiled snake hours ahead...But you won't get that knowledge from what we have come to accept as today's usual weather sources.

16661788343_faa102ab15_z.jpg


17256048636_e756c42daf_z.jpg


16659566394_7563322024_z.jpg


 
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Rasputin22

Rasputin22
14,076
3,612
Just watching Mobile news and they had the max wind at Middle Bay Lighthouse (start of race) at 72 MPH. Fort Morgan (near finish) was 64 MPH.

 
Great work on the rescue and getting all safely back to port.

We had just finished on a Tripp 26 and threw the kite up for the ride back to FYC when it hit us. According to the Ft Morgan weather station there was an initial gust of 62 followed by 20 min of 50 then over an hour where it was over 30. We were fortunate to have a boat full experienced sailors that didn't panic and did what it took to secure the boat and ride the storm out.
When it had settled down we threw a blade up and proceeded to head to FYC when we spotted three sailors floating, we rescued them and had learned they were sailing a Cal 24 that turtled and sank. They were in the water for more then an hour and were in shock as they lost 2 crew to drowning. We got them safely back to FYC.
My thoughts and prayers to the families of victims of this tragedy.

 
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Squirmy

New member
47
0
^sidmon I see what you are saying about the 'weather eye' aspect of this storm after watching the video of the boat riding it out that DryArmour posted. It at first looked no worse than crap I've been caught out in in my Laser where lightning and low visibility are the biggest concerns. Then the heavy stuff hits, embedded within the storm.

Agree with your suggestion that better communication between the boating public and the local NWS offices in areas known for volatile weather is a good lesson to learn from this tragedy. I'm kind of an amateur weather geek and am used to digging deeper for info and I am surprised about how many people don't do this that are outdoors where this extra information could be crucial for decision making.

That radar would've scared me even without the bow echo!

 
2,689
0
The sailors we rescued yesterday were all wearing PFDs, they stated that the two victims were also wearing PFDs. The chop on the bay was so incredibly steep that it may have contributed to them drowning as the water was constantly breaking over their heads. Ironically one overboard sailor survived a three hour ordeal without a PFD. I'm not advocating against wearing life jackets I'm just telling you what I know that happened yesterday.
I think thats a statistical anomaly. Anyone not wearing pfds and harnesses in 50+ knots is a fool, or on a boat with a bad skipper.

The bubbas in Dry Armours vid at least have sail down. But sitting on the cockpit coaming in blue jeans and no pfd, well, nough said. Very sad situation but if that s indicative of how much of the fleet prepares in a squall, not wholly surprising. Hopefully some education will come out of this.

Nice job.

 

Rasputin22

Rasputin22
14,076
3,612
I had noticed the local TV station making weather alerts in the scroll at the bottom of the screen for at least 45 mins before the shit hit the fan at the Flora-Bama line. They were also cutting into regular programming and describing the approaching line as moving east at 60 mph. My girlfriend called from work to tell me to take a rolled up rug inside that had been delivered the day before and was still sitting out on the porch. I asked her how she knew of the impending storm and she said that she had seen the weather radar on her Iphone app that I had gotten for her called 'MyRadar'. She is pretty clueless about weather and I had gotten weary of her asking me for personal forecasts and she just loves MyRadar. She will wake me up in the middle of a stormy night to show me the screen and it is pretty much the same data that the local TV weather people get. If you have a smartphone and go boating, then you should have this great tool.

http://myradar.acmeaom.com/

No excuse for saying 'It was on us before we knew it'. I watched it approach for maybe 20 minutes. There was mention in one of the interviews that have made it onto YouTube that the race had been cancelled earlier but then was 'un-cancelled'. New Orleans got its but kicked the night before and there was no mystery that a major system was moving this way. FYC RC may end up taking some flack on this one, but the ultimate responsibilty is up to each skipper.

 

DryArmour

Super Anarchist
When I am doing micro-climate forecasting for clients and things are going south, I use a myriad of tools on multiple screens to get a sense of what is on the way. Upstream real time Wx Observations, Visible weather satellite loops, IR loops, NEXRAD composite and base reflexivity as well as velocity radar loops, live streaming cameras where available and real time lightning sensor data and finally PW values. I crunch that into growth/decay trends and then try and make as educated an analysis as possible. I am not perfect but get it right a lot more than missing the mark. Simply looking at base/ composite reflectivity radars if that is all you have helps but there is a lot more data out there that is of value and of course NWS watches/warnings are a great resource as well.

 

Rasputin22

Rasputin22
14,076
3,612
Hey!

I don't mind her waking me up in the night all anxious about impending weather, I just tell it is time to 'Hunker Down' and all that suggests.

 

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