Hurricane Patricia - 1200 miles from landfall and 6 foot storm surge

We always watch the weather fairly closely, especially as it relates to Hurricanes.  We do this in a variety of ways.  The weather on the radio and TV, but also with App's like Hurricane Tracker and NOAA.   So with that, we were aware of Hurricane Patricia, but didn't give her much thought since she was in the Pacific Ocean heading toward Mexico, I figured she would die down and not have any impact on us all the way over in New Orleans.

Turns out I was wrong...

We kept an eye on it closely even as it approached Mexico south of the Sea of Cortez.  We had some good friends in that part of the world looking at a couple of cruising boats for sale so we were watching to be sure they would be ok.  Once it hit land and certainly had an impact in Mexico, and our friends were fine, we went about our daily lives without looking at it again (For a couple of days).  We started to get rain, which we assumed we would, but then the water started rising quite a bit in our Marina as well. 

It turns out that not only was Patricia still slowly traveling North East across Mexico toward the southern tip of Texas she was also starting to come back over the Gulf of Mexico.  She was weak at this point and no longer even a tropical depression.  But when I pulled up a 48hour meteorlogical chart, I could see a secondary low pressure developing just west of Texas in Mexico.  This essentially stacked two low pressure systems on top of one another.  

video
Why is this important you may ask?  It is because wind travels counter clockwise around a low pressure system.  That is why when you see video's of hurricanes, they are always spinning in a counter clockwise rotation like in the video above.

These low pressure systems can be hundreds of miles in diameter and can really do pretty amazing things to the seas.  Not just the waves, but the amount of water that a hundred mile band of wind all pushing in the same direction can move.  As the storm was coming off of Mexico and back over the Gulf of Mexico, that means that everything North East of the storm was starting to get a wind that was coming from the South and blowing to the North.  As the wind blows north, it will actually push the water from the Gulf of Mexico toward land.  This is what actually creates the storm surge you hear about when you watch the weather and they talk about hurricanes and tropical depressions.

The arrows represent the wind that is circling around the
low pressure system indicated by the circle and the red "L"
(This is a 500 Millibar Chart from NOAA and good to know as a boater)
The system was moving slowly to the East North East, so as it pulled water from the Gulf Coast of Mexico and pushed it up toward the east, then North around it low pressure center, it sent it flowing up into the Bays, bayous, lakes, rivers and creeks.  And it moves a LOT of water.  Keep in mind this storm hit the West Coast of Mexico at 1200 or so miles away from where we are, but it pushed that water from the Gulf up into the bay, Lake Ponchatrain and all the way up the Tchefuncte river against the direction of water flow.

That leads us to what we saw on our boat and at our location.  The water rose a few feet over the weekend, and by Saturday it was about to crest over the bulkheads and docks.  We went to bed and set a 2 hour wake rotation to check the lines.  We also have a large 2X12 rigged on pulleys on a couple of pylons so that if the water were to go significantly higher than our dock, these will keep the boat from floating over the dock but rather keeping it where it should be.  Certainly we had to adjust the lines and let them out to keep the fenders lined up and the boat enough slack to still swing free of the dock as the water rose.




Below are a few pictures of the flood waters and also a Video we took from the boat, the marina and then we did end up wandering around town to check it all out.



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