Diving Conditions After Hurricanes

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Sep 26th, 2004, 03:51 PM
  #1
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Diving Conditions After Hurricanes

We are planning a trip to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI in a couple of weeks and are wondering about the affects of all the hurricanes and storms. The resort is actually closed right now as it apparently is every year at this time, so we can't get in touch with anyone on site. Does anyone know whether there have been any effects or damage in the BVI from the hurricanes and storms? Even if there is no real property damage, we are wondering about the dive conditions after the storms as well since that is the main purpose of our trip. We don't want to travel all the way (and spend all that money!) and then have lousy diving conditions. Can anyone help with some information?
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Sep 26th, 2004, 07:53 PM
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Gin-colored waters can be churned up and vis reduced from 75 to 8 feet. I did a reef survey about 8 years ago on San Salvador, Bahamas with the Riding Rock Inn Dive Op. We were the last plane out of Nassau to San Sal before the flights were canceled due to an approaching hurricane. We spent the night on San Sal at the Riding Rock, listening to the howling winds of 95-115 mph. We dove two days later and it was all churned up with very low vis. My wife and I were descending together, and she was roughly 6 feet under me, and decided to follow the fins of another diver; at the same time, I had to stop to equalize. After I neutralized ear pressure, I quickly descended to catch up to her fins, which I barely saw 8 feet under me. She was swimming down head first to catch up to other divers (True, not a good move). I didn't see the other divers below her, which she was attempting to catch up to, and thought she was in trouble. So, I went after her, and in 30 seconds, checked my depth gauge, and I was in 85 feet of water, thinking something happened to her. I quickly ascended to see if she was on the surface, which she wasn't, and dove down again trying to locate her, still believing she was in deep trouble. I went down to 90 feet and couldn't find her, and surfaced again. Narcosis hit, and I did everything people do who suffer from Narcosis, described in the PADI training manual. It was awful. I had drifted for from the Riding Rock Inn dive boat, and my wife had surfaced near me, by a fluke, thank God. The dive boat couldn't come to get us because other divers were still underwater. One of the Riding Rock Divemasters dove off and swam to me, and helped me get through the Narcosis symptoms. The dive boat from Beaches came and picked the three of us up. The Point: the vis is severely reduced after hurricanes, and diving safety techniques must be modified. Robert
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Sep 27th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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Thanks for the reply Robert. Sounds like you experienced a very scary situation. I'm just wondering how long after these storms pass through the visibility is affected. We have done a fair amount of diving in the Caribbean (including two previous trips to the Bitter End), but never at this time of year. We just don't want to travel all that way and spend all that money and not have the ideal diving conditions we are used to at other times of year!
Linda
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Sep 27th, 2004, 01:40 PM
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Yes, two days after the hurricane, the vis was considerably reduced. Four days after, the vis returned to normal in the waters off San Sal. Robert
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Sep 28th, 2004, 04:27 AM
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Since there was not a hurricane in the BVI, just some rain, I don't think you have anything to worry about.
Ronnie
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Sep 28th, 2004, 05:36 AM
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@Robert

I recently came across these two satellite pictures of the Bahamas, one taken before hurricane Michelle, the other one approx. 1 month later. Would you know what exactly they show. What does the change of color mean. Are there still "floating particles" in the water or is this due to another effect (I'm not a diver)?

5 October 2001, 1605 UTC: Bahamas before Hurricane Michelle
http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/~gumley/mod...1602_thumb.jpg

6 November 2001, 1605 UTC: Bahamas after Hurricane Michelle
http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/~gumley/mod...1601_thumb.jpg

these are thumbs only, the full size pictures can be accessed from here:
http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/~gumley/modis_gallery/ > search page for Michelle

(the topic was brought up first in this thread
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...5&tid=34529338)

Thanks!
Johanna
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Sep 28th, 2004, 10:15 AM
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Johannag; Fantastic website and satellite photos of Bahamian archipelago. I am downloading it not, including the two Photos pre- and post- hurricane Michelle. I'm at lunch and have to go back to the office, but so far I see Northwest Providence Channel south of Grand Bahama-North of Andros, which is roughly 450 ft. deep, and the incredible dark blue of the huge depths of almost 3,000 ft. North of Nassau, which ascend up into the Northeast Providence Channel between the southern tip of Abaco and North of Nassau. Part of the difference in the two photos is due to drifting particles in the shallower depths. I will study them when I get home from work tonight. Incredible website...thank you! Robert
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Sep 28th, 2004, 03:49 PM
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Johanng; Once again, thanks for letting us know about this satellite photo website. I've bookmarked it for future use. The most pronounced change is the huge wash of white color along the western coast of Andros, between the two photos. Andros is the large island with much inland water, which you can see in the photos. The sun could have been out more in one photo than in the other. This literally lights up the ocean bottom. The Great Bahama Bank extends from north of the Bimini Islands (move northwest in the photo from Andros and you'll see two tiny islands, appearing as one in the photo, which is North and South Bimini) south past Andros, almost to the Acklin Islands. This mammoth bank extends 80 miles from Andros' shores westward, and is very shallow, many places being from only 5-7 feet in depth. So, the huge wash of white in one photo vs the other is the sun reflecting off the sandy bottom. Look to the East of Andros, and you see deep, dark bluish-black waters. This is where the Tongue of the Ocean drops down immediately to over 1,300 feet in depth. The differences are due mostly to sun and shallow vs huge depths, rather than floating particles. Everywhere I spot this dark coloring corresponds to mammoth depths, such as just east of Abaco Island, which drops down to almost 5,000 feet! Robert
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Sep 29th, 2004, 12:19 AM
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thanks for the analysis Robert
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Sep 29th, 2004, 07:44 AM
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@Robert

just to "complete the picture":

When looking for info about MODIS itself, I came across this website with some more info about ocean color in connection with hurricanes. Here they compare images taken within a few days (rather than 1 month like the ones I referred to):

http://oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov/cgi/...e.cgi?c=STORMS

they compare two images of the Bahamas Sept 1 / Sept 6 2004 (Frances)

and further down two images of the Gulf Sept 18 / Sept 28 2002 (Isidore)
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Sep 29th, 2004, 06:32 PM
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Johannag; Yes, amazing the difference in color pre- and post- Frances. The Bahamian waters are so varied in depth, with white sand stretching for miles in shallow waters along the Great Bahama Bank, along with wall drop offs to thousands of feet. As many know who fly over the Bahamas to Eleuthera, abaco, Grand Bahama, Abaco, New Providence, etc., the colors vary from lime-green, turqoise, light to deep blue, clear gin-color, to light reds. Those photos show the kaleidoscope nature of the same Bahamian waters, by varying the sunlight, cloud cover, amounts of plankton, etc. I often wonder if the satellites ever picked up the coral and sponge reproduction times, when huge clouds are released underwater? Robert
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