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Old 08-06-2015, 20:39   #61
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

I hope you all are okay. Would like to hear from any of the posters, or anyone else, that rode through the storm.
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Old 08-06-2015, 21:14   #62
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

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Originally Posted by contrail View Post
Often, disagreements are born of misunderstanding, and I think this may have happened here. When I referred to professional forecasters, I meant exactly that: the meteorologists that work for the NHC, NOAA, and other organizations around the world, including private ones. I would call them scientists, in the truest sense of the world. Most of them do get some or all of their information from NOAA and its branches, simply because they have many of the satellites and most of the really big computers which are needed to produce the models. That is not to say that there aren't other countries with satellites and computers; in fact, of the two models that have historically been the most accurate with regard to hurricanes, one is the US based GFS, and the other is the Euro model. But, there are other good ones, and improvements are constantly being made, including some pretty significant ones made to the GFS, just this year. And while the Euro model has generally done a bit better than the GFS, it all depends on how each model initializes a given storm, and that varies from storm to storm. Real forecasting and analytical skill is involved in deciding which model is most appropriate for a given storm....that and actually flying into a hurricane, which, unfortunately, is necessary to truly determine the center and a number of other things upon which the best forecasts depend. And these flights are mostly done by the US, some by NOAA and some by the Military.

When I talk about private forecasters, I am referring to persons or organizations who produce a product (and sometimes charge for it) that applies mostly to a particular area or a particular need like shipping. Weather routers fall into this category, folks like Commander's Weather, for example, or Chris Parker. Years ago in Mexico, before the days of Don Anderson, there was a guy on the Chubasco Ham Net, who was very good considering the more limited weather sources and computing powers of the day. He was actually a teacher, and his vocation of teaching eventually pushed out his avocation of Mexican weather. But he was good, and he had very good real-time on-the-ground resources that were organized via the Sonrisa Net. For many years, Herb Hilgenberger did a terrific job for vessels in the Atlantic and beyond. It was a very intensive labor of love. Chris Parker is one of the folks who have slipped into the void left when Herb quit, and he does a good job too. Each of these private weather forecasting sources had or has its own biases and tendencies, and it sometimes took or takes quite awhile to become able to factor those into account when making an informed weather choice. But, for all these folks and organizations, the real nitty gritty weather sources and computer fire-power come from NOAA and its counterparts in a few other nations. They are the only ones with the resources required. So it's truly silly to dismiss NOAA, and it's also silly to dismiss similar sources from outside the US. And it's ironic when some of the private forecasters do so, perhaps for commercial purposes, since their raw data always comes from these very sources!

For what it is worth, when I was responsible for the safety of several hundred boats in a marina in Baja, for five years (we never lost one), I spent a good part of the day (in Hurricane Season) going through the stuff from NOAA/NHC, Dr. Jeff Masters (Weather Underground), and the Chubasco Net. Now, running a charter yacht in the Caribbean, I use NOAA/NHC, Dr. Jeff Masters (Weather Underground), Chris Parker, Windguru, and Crown Weather. I blend all of them, which usually works right back to the NHC. But I still prepare carefully, each time, using the lessons learned from multiple near misses and three direct hits. If you live in the hurricane zones year round, you can't always dodge the bullet. I must be crazy!!!

I think that when Zee fulminates about professional forecasters, she may be referring to the folks that crop up on TV and deliver very sensationalistic forecasts. Many of them are simply newscasters who are designated as the weather person for that show. Some are meteorologists, too, but I suspect they are all simply trying to drive up ratings. Even the Weather Channel is very guilty of that, although this used to be much less the case. And, sorry to say, in the cruising world, there is much second hand forecasting done that is of the same nature, and that has included very well known sources, in Mexico and other places. And, in blogs like this one.

For what it is worth, the pros at the NHC seem to have had a very good handle on Blanca, as they usually do. Blanca is rapidly weakening, for all the predictable reasons of water temperature, topography, sheer, and dry air, all of which the NHC has been pointing out for several days. The storm is blowing in Los Cabos, at this moment, and it will cause some problems up the coast. Hopefully, all the boats that folks are concerned about, not to mention those that have gone unmentioned, will make out OK. The swells will probably cause some damage in Los Cabos and similarly facing beaches, and be felt all the way up in SoCal. And the rain may knock out some roads in Baja for a relatively short period of time. All of this is unwelcome, but predictable and far from unusual.

For what it is worth, the Sea of Cortez is not a deathtrap for boats, although quite a number of boats have been trapped there, over the years. I have always said that, in order to live in a hurricane area, you have to have the discipline to adequately prepare for the eleventh storm, when the first ten either missed, dissipated, or did no damage. And, even if you prepare, you can get unlucky in the Sea, just like anywhere else. Probably the two most vulnerable categories of boats, over the years, have been those that have been left unattended for the summer (or longer), even in the "care" of someone (who will be desperately caring for his or her own boat if things really get chaotic), and those belonging to folks who have more or less stopped or taken a vacation from cruising and have "settled" into an area. This becomes a factor in their decision making and renders it far less objective than the thinking of folks who are truly cruising and moving about, and are willing to run, when necessary. La Paz certainly comes to mind, and, to a lesser extent, so do Puerto Escondido, Bahia Concepcion, and Santa Rosalia. But, they are all great spots for some storms, particularly PE, and there are many other nooks and crannies. Zee has chosen not to spend time there, for reasons that make sense to her, and so she may not be aware of the various spots. But, they are there, and the folks who move around become aware of them. And prepare.

Cheers,
Tim

Thanks. I appreciated your insights.
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Old 08-06-2015, 21:36   #63
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

I'll second that.
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Old 08-06-2015, 22:25   #64
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

Latest email . . . from San Jose del Cabo Marina

"unable to upload any photos - don't know why, but it keeps timing out
Power is restored to marina and not a single boat here suffered any damage. Everyone has spent the day putting things back together and a few have already headed back to Cabo San Lucas.
Weather window looks best for leaving 2am and heading to Mag Bay without stopping. At this point we plan to hug the coastline as much as possible but we'll see what it looks like when we get out there.
Will probably ask you for some weather help as we move. We don't have much except SailDocs once we get out of internet range.
Another sailboat is leaving here at the same time and traveling the same route but they are faster than we. We'll try to keep in contact over VHF. Although we aren't exactly buddy boating it's always nice to know there is someone else out there. "
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Old 09-06-2015, 00:40   #65
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

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Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
Latest email . . . from San Jose del Cabo Marina

"unable to upload any photos - don't know why, but it keeps timing out
Power is restored to marina and not a single boat here suffered any damage. Everyone has spent the day putting things back together and a few have already headed back to Cabo San Lucas.
Weather window looks best for leaving 2am and heading to Mag Bay without stopping. At this point we plan to hug the coastline as much as possible but we'll see what it looks like when we get out there.
Will probably ask you for some weather help as we move. We don't have much except SailDocs once we get out of internet range.
Another sailboat is leaving here at the same time and traveling the same route but they are faster than we. We'll try to keep in contact over VHF. Although we aren't exactly buddy boating it's always nice to know there is someone else out there. "
Have a good trip north.

And thanks for the info.

Ann
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Old 09-06-2015, 03:56   #66
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

At La Paz's Marina Palmyra, no damage to boats. At least two boats were beached from the anchorage and one other owner reported dragging anchor until he got a second anchor down. It sounds like the cruisers supported each other to keep boats from being damaged when the other boats dragged. The wind maxed out here between 2:00 am and 4:30 am. One person recorded a wind gust of 53 kn at 4:30 am. I saw steady winds more like 25 to 35 kn at our boat. Surprisingly, there was very little rain at our location. Gritty dirt and sand covered our boat inside and out today.

The port has been closed during this period (no one in or out with permission from the Port Captain) and I hear on the cruisers net that several boats are waiting for it to open to head down to Cabo to start the bash. Others are heading to San Carlos to haul out. Hopefully the port will open tomorrow.

I heard from a friend in Puerto Escondido that all was well there. No other news of other SOC locations.
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Old 09-06-2015, 16:00   #67
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

What of the vessel in Mag Bay, cocokai?
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Old 09-06-2015, 22:34   #68
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

have been advised destiny is on way to turtle. have heard nothing from greg other than he is aiming there as well.
speakeasy recorded 50'mph winds.
not bad.
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Old 10-06-2015, 04:03   #69
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

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have been advised destiny is on way to turtle. have heard nothing from greg other than he is aiming there as well.
speakeasy recorded 50'mph winds.
not bad.
Sounds like everybody's okay. Thanks be to Neptune and Aeolus.

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Old 13-06-2015, 12:15   #70
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Re: Hurricane Blanca's a wrap

Just got onto the net - sort of - from Turtle Bay, Baja. To those that wonder: my experience was that after leaving Santa Maria Bay, (10 nm north of Mag Bay), the wind died about 50 nm north. Blanca's landfall wasn't forecast for another few days so I opted for a break and motored in glassy water due north to San Juanico, dropped the hook 20 hours after leaving Santa Maria Bay. It was hot and windless with a 1.5 m swell and a decent surf. Several surfers were taking advantage of it but I chose to go on the next day.

As the storm approached landfall, right where predicted, it eased and the NHC (which I had access to via satellite), issued watch, and warning zones. The weather was still gorgeous, hot and mostly windless. The swell was definitely getting bigger. The surfers in San Juanico were in for some excellent rides.

I chose to get out of the watch (or warning) zones, which I felt confidant about, seeing as the storm was faithfully on the same track as predicted. I beat NW in light wind to Punta San Hipolito 27 N 114 W (first stopping point outside watch, which ended at Punta Abreojos) and dropped the hook. The winds were forecast to be entirely from land and what was left of the eye was predicted to pass to the east. I chose to ride the storm (or what might be left of it) out right there.

The swells swelled to an estimated 3 meters, were far apart and weren't dangerous. The wind was light, it was sunny and the surf was awesome! Nothing but miles of beach, a tiny village - total surfer's paradise. The swell was from Blanca, from the SW. From East to West, the beach (Bahia San Hipolito) curves gently over 20 miles from almost north/south to east/west, the SW swell made for waves cresting endlessly from east to west.

The eye of the storm passed the following afternoon. The wind was predominantly from the north. It never exceeded 32 kt. But was warm and humid. It was calm by nightfall, the waves and swell subsided and that was it. I'm pretty sure the eye passed by somewhere close. The pressure fell and the sun came out with air so clear the visibility was probably 50 miles. By the time the sun set, the predominant NW wind and cold and low vis had returned.

Wrap Up: I'm convinced running from the storm to the North was the right idea. Thanks Zeehag and everyone else! The water temp in San Hipolito was 16 c - no self respecting storm's going to suck energy from that! I checked out a couple more beaches while the last of the swell petered out and finally pulled into Turtle Bay last night (Friday June 12). In the bay Cocokai and another schooner, Destiny, were anchored along with a 27 foot sailboat with an 8 hp outboard (a couple of dudes heading for Cabo).

Here's to Blanca - what a ride!
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Old 13-06-2015, 16:57   #71
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Re: Hurricane Blanca

Glad to hear y'all're safe and well.

Ann
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