Another Summer Thunderstorm
We arrived to the docks just minutes before an ominous-looking summer thunderstorm. We rushed to get Gira settled below decks and all of our hatches closed. Across the skyline, lightning ripped against the cloudy back-drop, which grew darker by the second. Having achieved our preparations, and checked the weather predictions on Weather Underground, Windy, DarkSky, and MyRadar. We sat in the cockpit awaiting the storm and visually double checking the deck.
The temperature dropped drastically. The clouds built to near vertical, meaning the storm was packing a lot of energy. Lightning continued to flash, ever closer, as the clouds bore down on us. Looking out to over a mile, across the sound rain was pouring and obscuring our view of New Bern.
Ten minutes later, the first drops began striking the docks and quickly became a torrential downpour. Banjo’s scuppers overflowed and water raced from the deck. Then the winds came.
Clocking in at 53 knots (61 mph), the unexpected burst of wind caused Banjo to heel to port 10 degrees. Directly to port was the dock’s finger pier which pressed back against Banjo’s fenders. Our sun shades flapped wildly. Rain was pushed into the cockpit under our enclosure. Inside the cockpit, we stood watching the thunderstorm, and waiting to jump into action if needed.
The winds were sustained at 53 knots for almost 5 minutes before abating, followed by our sigh of relief. I was reminded of the microburst we experienced two years ago while out on the Neuse River. More cells were closing in, so we hopped onto the deck to adjust our lines and remove our sun shades. The subsequent cells brought only rain and lightning and were no where near as powerful as the initial squall. Although there were strikes all around, it did not appear that any boat was struck. We were grateful there was minimal damage.
Finally, after a couple hour passed, the sky lightened as the thunderstorm front passed through leaving the area with power outages. Behind the thunderstorm, a beautiful sunset. Definitely not the worst storm seen by New Bern in recent months, but enough to get attention, and respect. Reports came in of two-inch hailstones striking boats in the New Bern Grand Marina, a little more than a mile away. Flash flooding was also reported.
Luckily, all of our dock-mates appeared unharmed, also with minimal damages to their boats, mostly in terms of torn sun shades and some lost deck furniture.
Our lesson learned (again): Never underestimate the storm you see on the horizon, regardless of weather reports. Those services typically pass on data from specific stations, and your conditions can be dramatically different. We checked four different services and they all reported 5 knot winds, gusting to 8 knots.