Just about all ships sailing on the Great Lakes will be swinging from a hook or in a safe harbor until what shipping veterans are calling one of the worst storms to hit the Great Lakes passes.
Except for western Lake Superior, this storm that was Hurricane Sandy is supposed to be a doozy. The southern half of Lake Michigan can expect winds up to 60 miles per hour, waves 18 to 23 feet, as high as 33 feet along the Chicago waterfront.
Lake Carriers Association Vice-President Glen Neckvasil says shipping companies have been tracking Sandy since the weekend. He doesn’t think any ship will risk this storm, “If the storm actually proves to be as bad as they’re saying, yeah, 33 foot waves, yes, I would think everyone would be at anchor or stay in harbor.”
Interlake Steamship Senior Vice-President Bob Dorn says the issue with Sandy is safety, “Absolutely. You protect the ships and its crew first. With a storm of this uncertainty, it’s better to play out a very safe hand, wait and see what transpires, and then you can put your ship to sea when you know what this weather’s really going to do.”
Dorn says they have their nine vessels in safe places, “I’m not going to say it’s the storm of the century, but it’s one of the storms that certainly in my career, I’ve never seen a storm of this magnitude come from the east.”
Duluth Port Authority’s Jim Sharrow agrees. He’s been in the industry for almost 40 years and has never seen waves forecast at 30 feet. So he’s not disappointed it’ll miss Lake Superior, “Not a bit. No, we feel quite concerned and quite sorry for the people and the ships and the like around the country. These are real extreme conditions.”
Sharrow says it’s hard to say how long ships will be riding out the storm, but probably at least through Wednesday. Even after the storm passes, waves continue to be high for several hours.