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post #17 of Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

Originally Posted by RichH View Post
For T'storms not associated with 'fronts' -
The problem with T-storms on the Chesapeake is that many 'form' and stay stationary as they form along the western shore before moving off, usually towards the NE.

Some 'hints':
if caught out, go 'south' or SE and avoid the typical NE track.

If the wind is actively rising into (strong updraft) or out of (strong downdraft) a visible growing Tstorm along the W. Shore .... either get to port, anchor close to and in the lee of the W shore, or 'run away'. When a T-storm is downdrafting (with strong 'outflow') ... expect the 'worst' conditions.
Anytime you are out on the bay, and there are quickly forming black clouds on the W. shore ... and the wind is 'rising', get into port as soon as possible is the most 'defensive' / safest tactic.
If possible stay ~3mi. from the 'darkest' part of the T'storm cloud, even if 'blue' overhead, to avoid the occasional 'bolt from the blue'.

Fronts, including 'white squalls':
With approaching fronts with imbedded Tstorms, favor the Western shore, get to a lee port (less fetch) ... or anchor in the lee close to shore if necessary .... avoid passing through 'inlets' or river entrances, unless you definitely can 'make it'. (example entrances to Magothy R., Rappahannock, Patapsco, Patuxent, etc. ) during or near the max. wind as the land effects will 'funnel' the wind through the 'passes'.

Keeping 'moving' seems to be good tactic as for some unknown reason moving boats seem to get 'hit' with lightning less than anchored or docked boats ... Ive been 'hit' three times ... always when not moving. (Good thing is most insurance policies dont apply penalty when hit by lightning).

Same applies to Tstorms developing over the Delaware shore of the Delaware Bay.


Yeah, but... July 2010 there was a rapidly moving, fast developing storm that passed through N. Va and the Bay catching even the NWS off guard.
It had been a delightful day of sailing s/ newbies; sunny, warm, 10-12 knots and we were southeast of CHESAPEAKE BCH.
I saw the darkness and ASSUMED it would move across the bay. By the time I figured out that it was getting darker and not moving left to right as I expected it was bearing down on us.
I heard a panicked MAYDAY and incoherent screaming and Herrington something on the radio, went below to tell them to speak slower and more clearly. That wasn't much good. Came up and was going to get some sail down and that fast we had wind/whitecaps on us and it was blowing 30+ Waves built to 4-5' in no time.

Boat slewed over sideways as I had all sail still up. Starting the engine helped but I couldn't take onto port (towards the center of the bay) Finally got some jib rolled in, dropped the main enough to use the one reef. Things settled down and then we rode out the storm. Tore the old and about to be replaced main half way up.
Afterwards I heard from two separate boats that they registered 52 knots.
NWS radar guesstimated 70 knots in places.

Keep SOME sail up to steady the boat and to have steerage if your engine craps out. Keep an eye on the weather; late afternoon Tstorms are to be expected in summer on the Bay!
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