Atlantic Boat and Marine News and Information

Tropical Depressions can Form Close to Home this Time of Year
CHARLESTON, SC (Wed 07/22/09) --

During most of hurricane season (June 1st through November 30th), it's easy to see them coming. Tropical depressions, qualified as such by organization, pressure, and wind speed, typically form half way from here to Africa or down in the Caribbean Sea. Sometimes it seems to take weeks for a storm to be named and even more time to get close enough to pose a threat. It is easy to become complacent.

But not always. This time of year it is not totally uncommon for a tropical depression to form just off the Atlantic Coast, quickly intensify, and hit the mainland without much warning. Case in point is the 2004 Hurricane Gaston.

Gaston was a category I hurricane that made landfall in late August along the central South Carolina coast. Gaston's quick formation and landfall had mariner's scrambling up and down the southeast Atlantic coastline. After quickly moving inland, Gaston produced heavy rainfall across portions of the Carolinas and Virginia. Heavy flooding in the Richmond, Virginia area resulted in 8 deaths.

In a mere 36 hours, Gaston went from a poorly organized mass of offshore thunderstorms to a hurricane making landfall on the Carolina coast. Many mariners were caught off guard by Gaston's quick formation and arrival, including many of us from Atlantic Boat and Marine.

This is a great time of year for boating and cruising. We have many clients that spend the first few months of hurricane season in the tropics. Many of us have taken long passages and cruising trips during the hurricane season. But whether cruising or being prepared to secure your docked vessel in the face of an approaching storm, a diligent weather's eye is required this time of year.

Among other sources, we rely heavily on the National Hurricane Center's Tropical Weather Outlook, which is updated every 6 hours during hurricane season. There are other good sources of weather information, but the key is to stay informed and be prepared to act. Don't let the first you hear of bad weather be when it is on top of you.

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