Radar Image of Severe Storm that Hit Branson MO.

Bill's Blog
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This is a pair of radar images that show the severe thunderstorms that hit the area.  Contrary to what some have said, there was plenty of warning a storm was coming, starting with the severe weather outlook area maps days in advance.  Radar shows the severe storms and characteristic bowing echo – an indication of strong wind – and the velocity image on the right, showing in the brighter pink color, the strong winds that preceded the heavy rain.

This is the Severe T-Storm Watch that was issued for SW Missouri at 11:20 am.  A Severe T-Storm Warning was issued for Table Rock Lake at 6:32 pm.  The warning specifically warned for possible strong, damaging wind.  That was about 1/2 hour before the first call came in that a boat was sinking or had sunk.

Video of the lake shows very strong wind (I read that a gust to 73 mph was recorded at the lake). I believe the video at the link is from the duck boat that made it back to shore.  Here’s another video (video may be disturbing).  The water was warm and the wind blowing out of the thunderstorm was cool.  Cool air blowing over warm water makes bigger waves than if warm air is flowing over cold water.  That’s why a warm 20 mph wind in early May might only kick up 2-3 foot waves, while the same wind in October when the air is 20 deg. cooler than the water might cause 6-8 foot waves.  At the Springfield MO airport, the temperature dropped from 92 to 73 in an hour when the storm moved in. 

The boat sank in 40-feet of water and landed rightside-up.  It then rolled on the tires down to a depth of 80 feet.  This was not too far from the dam, where the water is up to 220 feet deep – as deep as Lake Erie. It looks to me like the boat filled with water, the pilot of the boat lost control and it just tipped and sank very quickly, before people could get out.  Authorities hope to haul the boat up early this coming week. 

1) Boats should not have been out on the lake – there was adequate weather information that a storm was coming and strong winds were possible.. 
2) Whether it made a difference in this case or not, everyone had time to put on floatation devices/life jackets.  I have a kayak.  I don’t care if I’m 10 feet from shore in 2 foot-deep water.  I always wear a life jacket when I am in the kayak.
3) I know that you should aim your boat into the wind in high waves, but this was a duck, capable of driving out of the water in a lot of places…could they have made it to a closer shore and driven out of the water or at least into shallow water? 
4) I first proposed this 50 years ago…but I wonder if it’s possible to mount a flashing light (bar) and/or siren similar to police vehicles at strategic points around the lake and activate them during rare occasions when conditions are dangerous. 
5)  Remember that strong winds can move out ahead of the rain as a severe storm approaches.  Standard radar shows rain and the strongest wind may be out ahead of the echo on radar.

There are two investigations ongoing…one on the circumstances and cause of the accident

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