Safety on the water: Don’t take a chance during summer storms


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Summer weather is here, and many of you may be heading to an area lake to have fun.  But along with summer weather, come summer thunderstorms. 

Many boaters visit Four Corners Marina on Percy Priest Lake. Remember what happened to the docks and boats on the morning of March 1st, 2017?  Just imagine if you had been out on the lake during that storm.

That may have been during the springtime, but some of the summer squalls in Middle Tennessee can be just as strong. 

Jim Pat Tidwell is a native of Donelson, now living in Celina and has boated on most of the lakes in the mid-state.  Back when he was just thirteen years old, out on Old Hickory Lake with his family, Mother Nature taught him a lesson he can never forget.

“We had a little houseboat that we docked out here,” Tidwell remembers. “Every Sunday afternoon after church we’d come out here and go for a little ride in our houseboat, a real small houseboat. One afternoon we were headed out and uh, ‘Look, there are some dark clouds’.  Well, that little wind came down through there. We didn’t think anything about it, at first. 

“And then it got stronger and stronger.  Daddy immediately took control of the boat and headed straight into it.  It’s something that I’ve learned and used all my life. He headed into it and gave it full throttle. That little squall kept pushing us backward into the mouth of this creek and pushed us right up here into the shallow water.  Daddy had the boat straight.  If it had ever got one way or the other it could have turned it over, could have tipped it over.  

“We all said our prayers.  You’ve got to learn something from those kinds of things.  These young kids have to learn something. Watch what happens.  Remember it.”

And he has some advice:

“The first thing we did, and what everybody should do, is we put our life jackets on. Grab that life jacket.  Put it on. Save a life,” Tidwell, warns.

Another unfortunate example of the power of a summer squall took place last July in Branson, Missouri when Duck Boats carrying tourists got caught in a terrible storm with 65 mph plus winds, creating high waves.  Unfortunately, one of the boats was swamped and sunk, killing seventeen people.  It was a freak accident, but one that could have been prevented if only the boats had not ventured out into the oncoming storm.

We certainly don’t want to scare you away from the lake.  After all, every summer thousands of folks head out and have a great and safe time. But when the skies darken, you see lightning, and you hear thunder, get off the lake. The good thing is that in the summertime these storms usually don’t last more than 30-60 minutes. Stay safe!

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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