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Old 09-03-2013
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White Squall...

Hi guys,

I was feeling for a sailing movie tonight and watched "White Squall", which I finally really liked!

After the movie I read about that rare occurence of squall and was really surprised to learn that this phenomenum is common on the Great Lakes.

Any one of you experienced that kind of bursting wind? (In the Great Lakes regions or not).
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

I work on a OSV in the Gulf of Mexico, we have been hit with a squall that went from 5-10kt winds and jumped to 60kt sustained 70kt gusts within a matter of minutes. Sea state went from 3-5ft (basically calm) to 12ft occas 14ft. Lasted about 2 hours or so. It wasn't some white wall of rain like in the movie but it was definitely fast and abrubt.
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

I've experienced a small microburst off of Nine Mile Point outside of Kingston, Lake Ontario. There were line squalls passing through but nothing too serious. Suddenly we were knocked down and our top mast broke free along with the topsail. The wind felt like it was coming down onto us and the rain was actually bouncing up back off the water due to the wind force. We also blew out the main although it was reefed fully. All aboard were safe and clipped on and the hatches were closed, luckily. My most vivid memory was watching one of my trainees swimming on deck.
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

2 years ago Lake Erie coming into Bolles harbor channel , sand bar on starboard, shore to port side 1-1.5miles away, the water started to ripple land disappeared , all I could do was turn into the wind & hit the throttle before the really strong winds hit. The city of Monroe reported 68mph winds, add a mile or so off shore & & I'm sure we hit over 70mph. the wind burst lasted about 3-5min (seemed much longer) and when it died down enough to see we were only about 50yrds outside the channel to port and lucky not to be stuck on the sand bar. We were lucky we had the sails already down coming into the channel.
And an hour later the sun was back out!

You have to be prepared when you can't see what is coming over land until it hits the water.
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

A couple years ago I was delivering a boat. We were in the Hudson with the Tappen zee about a mile ahead of us.
It was very mild conditions then I looked up and noticed that the bridge disappears.
Figuring that was a bad sign we spent the next three minutes tying everything down.

It was all over in about 5 minutes but the new owner got a bit of a scare. We had to use my hand-held gps to know where we were in the river, couldn't see more than a few feet.
Could not hold the bow into the wind with the motor. Ended up holding the stern into the wind.
Never heard of that strategy before but it was better than being laid over.
The lesson from the Icarus story is not about human failing.
It is a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.
If you have an engineering problem solve it.

Last edited by davidpm; 09-03-2013 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

I was in one that killed the people on a nearby boat. Details when I get a chance.
Joe Della Barba
C&C 35 MK I

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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...


I was sitting on a restaraunt deck yesterday on the Hudson around 3:30 pm. A band was playing , there were about 200 people on the deck dancing and partying. The tiki bar was doing a brisk buisness. I keep my sailboat docked there so I was just hanging out with a friend. The river was dead calm and serene, the sun was peeking out between the clouds. The radar on my smart phone showed thunderstorms around but none near us. Then I saw ripples of wind on the river to our south and they quickly spread up the river. Quite a nice breeze, I thought. Being a sailor, I noticed the wind but no one else did.

So I keep looking south and I see the Mid Hudson Bridge just dissapear - its about a mile away. You can see the edge of it in the distance on the right side of my avatar. I quickly finished my beer and walked to my car. My buddy stayed at the bar, he was talking to some cutie in a sundress. By the time I was leaving the parking lot, it hit. 30 mph wind, sheets of rain, visability near zero, thunder and lightning. People running everywhere. The tent was blown out.

I came back to check my boat an hour later( I live down the street) and there was no one there, the tent was gone, as was the band. The sky had cleared and it was a beautiful evening, cool and crisp , but everyone was gone, and I was all alone on the river. I went home and checked the radar on the weather channel and it showed the cell just popping less than 15 minutes from when it hit. The thing just blew up and became a huge thunderstorm.
Sal Paradise

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Last edited by Sal Paradise; 09-03-2013 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

I was once anchored on Pamlico Sound, in a nice, sheltered cove, late August few years back, on my 21 ft Mirage. Probably around 5 pm I saw really dark cloud bank quickly moving in my direction from the west. All sails were dropped and stowed for the day (there was very little wind earlier) so I was not worried. It was a big nasty storm, full of thunder and lightening, and it really was a wall of rain coming my way, with a very sharp and distinctive divide. Never seen anything like that before. I hurried down below and when it hit the boat was bouncing up and down and sideways, and the rain was so hard that it filled the cockpit quicker than it could drain. Water was pouring below through gaps in my companionway doors (curse the boats with no bridge deck). I was pumping out like mad but in all that motion water was sloshing everywhere below. It lasted about 15 minutes. I probably took on 20-30 gallons of water in that time.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

Yesterday in Lake Montauk, a white wall of rain progressed from the north side of the lake, south to where we were. It was amazing. I got some pictures of it, but they don't do it justice. It was like a white curtain. Clear before it, and then a solid white wall.

XORT (from the Anything-Sailing.com) left 15 minutes earlier, headed north through the channel and then over to CT. He must have passed right through it.

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Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
The best minds discuss sailing. I don't know why. It's a mystery!
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Old 09-03-2013
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Re: White Squall...

Ive been in two 'white squalls', I almost rolled the first time.

Both were bright CLEAR days with a few high altitude stratus clouds directly above and down wind .... and the ONLY thing I saw was advancing FOAM on the water heading at me with great velocity.

The first time it happened we didnt even realize what was happening until too late and got hit with a massive 'wall' of wind that instantly laid the boat flat on her beam ends with the spreader deep in the water and held there for a few MINUTES. At sea our practice is to usually keep well 'buttoned up' so there was not any down flooding, etc.

Second time many years later, and instantly reflecting on the first experience 'learned the hard way', we got the topsail furled, the staysail down and simply dropped the main into a second reef ... all in about 30 seconds. (my boat heaves-to on a deep reefed main alone). Still with only a deep reefed main to heave-to on, we were well over and well past 45-50° for almost 20-30 minutes.

In both of these incidents, there was no 'warning', no rolling black clouds, no rain, etc. .... just the 'front' of FOAM on the water approaching the boat at high speed, in both instances the weather was essentially clear with lots of 'blue' showing. Reflecting back, the only visual long term warming was that the sky well to weather became crystal clear blue, high clouds (blown out cirrus with streaks) downwind and the temperature was starting to drop significantly. In both instances and after the FOAM passed by, it blew at well into full gale force for at least 30+ minutes, when before it was ~15kt.

There's a high and fast learning curve when a clear air 'white squall' rolls over you. My 'lesson' is if there has been an intense cold front coming from the west, and just because we cant see the typical/normal approaching roll clouds, and even if the sky is somewhat clear ... we still set up or get ready for a 'blaster'. Clear air 'white' squalls are not 'fun'.

Also had a large several mile in diameter 'blue hole' suddenly open up on top of me one time that gave similar 'hassle' but that definitely wasnt a white squall but a LOW center that 'birth-bombed' right on top of us off of Hatteras during extremely humid conditions with steadily rising winds. Inside the 'clear hole', the wind dropped to near zero, and with a brilliant 'chimney' of clear blue directly overhead, we crossed the 'wind wall' and instantly encountered near hurricane force winds for several hours.
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Last edited by RichH; 09-03-2013 at 05:04 PM.
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