It’s Saturday AM and we’re not leaving today. The weather picture is confusing. There is a low pressure system heading in our direction which is said to have a 70% chance of become a Tropical Storm within 48 hours. Even if it doesn’t intensify the area moving towards us is associated with severe thunderstorm activity. However, all the local wind and sea forecasts show light winds and seas 2-3 ft. They mention “scattered thunderstorms” but this is mentioned almost every day in Florida.

For those of you who have never been caught in a severe thunderstorm on a sailboat, let me tell you, it’s terrifying. Worse than the microbursts which can produce momentary winds of 50 kts, driving the rain and possible hail onto your face, and can cause a capsize if the sails aren’t reefed or lowered in time, is the lightning. There are things to do to mitigate the wind and heavy seas, but nothing to do to prevent a lightning strike. There you are, alone with nothing but the sea around you, with a 50 ft, aluminum lightning rod (the mast) reaching for the sky.

Being anchored in a thunderstorm isn’t much better. During the course of the storm the wind shifts as much as 360 degrees frequently causing the anchor to pull out with the danger of dragging onto shore. Or other boats around you dragging into you. This is particularly bad at night where it can be pitch black punctuated by everything lighting up periodically for a second from lightning. It’s surreal. Needless to say one doesn’t sleep through this.

It’s one thing to be caught up in a storm during a trip, but pretty stupid to leave a comfortable home knowing that a significant storm is predicted over the next 48 hours.

So do I believe the Tropical forecast or the local marine forecasts? Both are produced by the National Weather Service. Guess they are as messed up as the government.

Hopefully the situation will be clearer tomorrow AM which is now the earliest we will leave.

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One Response to Conundrum

  1. Jane and Larry says:

    Larry heard on our NOAA radio this morning that the former Tropical Storm Emily had a 60% chance of forming again. I’ve been folllowing it on weather underground, my favorite weather website, because I know from experience living in FL that it’s not over until it’s over. Dr. Jeff Masters writes their blog and as of yesterdsay afternoon he said it could redevelop. Even if there’s no lightning or hail, it’s no fun trying to navigate in a storm!

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