July Storm Part 1: Flying Canoes


Kirk had never been to White’s Ferry, so last Sunday, I thought he’d enjoy the short trip across the Potomac on the Jubal Early. I knew that some storms were blowing through, and I’d been watching their progress on my iPhone, I’d lived through a squall and tornado warnings the day before at Chautauqua Lake, but I was still surprised by the ferocity of this thing.


It was very calm when we pulled onto the Jubal Early ferry. The Potomac was almost mirror calm.

The imminent arrival of a storm was clear to anyone looking up and seeing the gust front.  Within a minute or two, all hell had broken loose. The wind hit hard and fast.  Overhead, everything was churning, with sycamore trees writhing in the gale and countless bits of leaf, stick, and stuff not just blowing through the air, but churning in it.  The wind seemed to be blowing every which way at once.

The ferry, which is tied to both banks by heavy steel cables, stayed fairly stable, but the cars were buffeted by the wind. The waves in the Potomac were breaking over the side of the ferry.  A stack of red canoes that had been neatly piled along the bank had been blown all over the place (probably hitting some of the cars waiting to cross from Maryland to Virginia.

Although it continued to rain and blow for awhile, the heaviest winds were gone by the time Kirk drove us off the ferry on the Maryland side.  As you can tell from the video, we were mightily impressed by both the suddenness and the violence of the thing. It would turn out that the storm damage was much worse than we expected.  Sitting in the car in the middle of the river, we had ringside seats when the squall blew through, but it still didn’t prepare us for what we would encounter next.

(If the above video didn’t work, or if it shut off before we completed the crossing, a Shockwave version is available here.)

One Response to “July Storm Part 1: Flying Canoes”

  1. Rants from the Hollow » Blog Archive » Memorable weather during our first year back in the US Says:

    […] The entire eastern half of the country experienced extremely violent weather during the summer, with tornado-producing fronts working their way across the continent over a period of days.  We never saw any tornadoes, although we had a number of violent little storms, and I was close to a tornado in Chatauqua, NY (3 blog posts from last July with storm videos). […]