I took the photo below two weeks ago to illustrate how the dock is normally positioned followed by some aerial photos and video taken Monday night.
If it wasn’t vandalism, what could it be? There was a brief thunderstorm Sunday night, could it be weather-related? Steve spoke to Tim Morrin from the National Weather Service today who went back and sent us a radar image of a severe warned thunderstorm that impacted this area of Fire Island between 10:15 and 10:30 Sunday Night. Tim said this storm might have been severe enough to contain straight-line winds. These can occur in strong thunderstorms where downdrafts can be strong enough to be mistaken for small tornadoes.
I ran the photos and story by Steve DiMartino of NY NJ PA Weather, the professional meteorologist that runs the FireIslandandbeyond.com Weather page and does video discussions for the site Monday through Friday.
Steve is convinced that the damage was from the storm and explained that “the storm developed in a highly tropical environment with all that moisture lifting high into the atmosphere. This leads to an area of rain-cooled air in the middle of the thunderstorm that raced to the ground like someone slamming a hammer on a tile. The damage you are describing is a perfect example of downburst wind gusts and straight-line winds.”
Steve shared a graphic from NOAA that describes this perfectly below.
If this was caused by a storm, it had to an extraordinary event and not just some strong winds during a typical storm. This same setup has been in place for years and no one remembers anything like this happening.
The dock was repaired today and there was no permanent damage. I spoke to one of the guys that worked on the project that still believes vandals (perhaps with a very powerful boat) bent the steel support poles so I guess we will never know for sure but my money is on Mother Nature.