Weather at Branson Area Duck Boat Sinking

Yeah, I’m a little late, having just found this forum. But, I’ve been engaged on the Ducks accident on a Branson forum.

We live on Table Rock Lake about ten miles west of where the Ducks use Table Rock Lake. I am friends with the people who own and operate State Park Marina, who assisted with the rescue. I boat on Table Rock Lake, with our boat stored on a lift in a dock at our residence. I also boat in SW FL, where we are on a canal connected to a creek connected to a bay connected to the Gulf. I am a notorious weather radar watcher. I work at a golf course, and weather radar is a constant thing with me.

That’s my credentials.

On the day in question, I was home and watching weather radar most of the day. As the front approached, I was watching weather radar, constantly updating it. The leading edge, which was well out in front of the precipitation, was clearly visible, as are outflow boundaries. So, I saw it coming on radar for a long enough time to know it was coming.

We have had a number of wind episodes lately, and, in fact, I had had the lakeside cables (both broken by wind) replaced on July 3, and on July 5 one of the bankside cables of the parallel dock next to it was broken by wind, and that dock swung into to other dock. I don’t know how these wind events affected the Ducks operation, but when the wind/leading edge in question hit, it hit like nothing that has been experience here. I thought our house and all the trees were going to be flattened.

My personal, unimportant opinion: We have had so many recent wind events that did not amount to what this one did, and given my knowledge of where the Ducks enter Table Rock Lake and there unimpeded line of sight of the approaching storm, that I believe they would have been lulled into a lack of concern about it.

It was still a mistake, and one they will be accountable for.

I don’t know how much y’all here have been following, because I did not read everything, but the vessel in question was in violation of it’s last inspection because it was forbidden from being on the lake in thoise conditions, and that is a crime, and when more than 6 lives are lost in a marine accident, that is a major event, so this has become very serious.

I will also add that this past week I was watching a tornado event on local TV, and they were using the same NWS weather radar I use, and it was obvious that there was a significant delay in that radar because reports from the ground were well out ahead of the radar, and the meteorologist commented on it.


Jim Pattinson Jr, president of Ripley Entertainment, made a few interesting statements in a CBSN news report, such as:

  • A fast moving storm that came basically out of nowhere. It came very suddenly.

  • It came at a higher rate of speed then was expected.

  • A micro storm effect that nobody expected to happen the way it did.

It is a 27 minutes news report but the Branson incident is discussed in the first four minutes.

That was I said, in more words.


Meteorologists say derecho likely what hit Branson area the night of Duck Boat sinking

1 Like

From Discover Magazine Satellite images refute claim that deadly Branson thunderstorm “came out of nowhere”

I have posted about this before - the Nexrad product you get on your phone is time delayed and this has led to fatal aircraft accidents and now apparently the Duckboat.

I was so upset the day this horrible accident happened. Then I became angry. I had so many questions as I’m sure most of the world did. Some people questioned why no one had life jackets on when the weather changed. I have witnessed first had of a boat that sunk & a child was in the forward cabin with a jacket on. Unfortunately the lifejacket did not save her. She became trapped because of it. What really got me angry was the amount of people who were taking cell phone videos instead of calling Harbor Patrol for help the moment the boat was in distress. I’m not saying that would have saved people, I’m saying in todays society too many people are wrapped up in “getting an incident on tape “ and not calling for help first.



In other places in the world wearing life vests during duck boat trips is compulsory. In the Branson incident it probably would not have helped much due to the canopy that blocked the escape route.

The accident filming, preferably directly streaming into the internet, disease is also present here in the Netherlands. Drivers even stop there cars in the middle of the highway and get out of their vehicles to obtain closer shots of accidents that happened on the other side of the highway. There is a € 2000.- fine on that but that does not stop them…

All of the commentary that I’ve seen, on weather blogs and the like, discuss the possibility that the display on the phone may have been misinterpreted but they focus on the characteristics of the display, not the time delay.

The critical threat was the gust front which might have been displayed with a light blue color while the heavy rain, further away, was displayed with orange and reds.

It’s been reported that the gust front was about 5 or so miles in front of the heavy rain.

In the video someone came aboard the boat and told the captain to do the water leg first, the captain was then seen checking his phone. AFAIK we don’t know where the person who boarded the boat was getting his information.

In any case the boats were cutting it too close given the NWS warning that had been issued for the area.

At least in New England, seems to me NWS shoot themselves in the foot by issuing so many boilerplate (and lengthy) watches and warnings with hyperbolic language about danger to life and property – most of which don’t come true – that people become numb to them.

Also, it’s been pointed out several times that the available radar is delayed, but nobody afaik has said by how much. I’d like to know how much; but also, why, and whether the listed time on the snapshots is correct. If it is correct I think the delayed excuse rather falls to the ground.

You seem to be describing a watch and not a warning. A warning is more urgent and the probability of the weather occurring is far greater.

In any event, in New England they may be influenced by the court’s decision in Honour Brown v. United States. I say “may” as I am only speculating, and the case was over 30 years ago. The linked opinion mostly discusses lost wages issues, the NWS was found liable for failing to maintain a buoy that may have given information indicating the likelihood of adverse weather. Without that data, the forecast did not include the adverse weather. The case is also the basis of the book “Fatal Forecast.”

1 Like

With regards to the delay, I googled NTSB NEXRAD etc.

This was from 2012:

NTSB Alert—In-Cockpit NEXRAD Weather Age Misleading and Killing Pilots

“In the best case, some of the data you view in a NEXRAD image is at least eight minutes old. In precipitation mode, it takes five minutes to complete a scan of the atmosphere at the radar site. The data is sent to a central NWS computer where it’s processed for a couple of minutes and then sent to SiriusXM®, which distributes the data your G1000 or Perspective system receives. Updates are broadcast to your system every five minutes.

“While eight minutes may not seem like a long time, consider that cumulus clouds can grow at up to 3,000 feet per minute. Thus, in eight minutes, cloud heights could have increased by 24,000 feet and evolved into a serious thunderstorm sending hail and turbulence a long distance from the clouds.”

1 Like

Ouch! If you’re treating an aircraft cockpit display as though it were actual radar from the aircraft, I can see some ugly surprises.

S band radars operate on a wavelength of 8-15 cm and a frequency of 2-4 GHz. The NWS S band radars transmit at 750,000 watts just above 10 cm. Because of the wavelength and frequency, S band radars are not easily attenuated and can to a certain extent detect objects within a rain shower. This makes them useful for near and far range weather observation. S band radars cannot detect tiny particles, water or other substances.

X band radars operate on a wavelength of 2.5-4 cm and a frequency of 8-12 GHz. Because of the smaller wavelength, the X band radar is more sensitive and can detect smaller particles. These radars are used for studies on cloud development because they can detect the tiny water particles and also used to detect light precipitation such as snow. Most major airplanes are equipped with an X band radar to pick up turbulence and other weather phenomenon.

Due to the properties of a S band radar it is almost impossible to detect gust fronts. Maybe over land when dust clouds could be generated by the gusting winds but over water this is much more difficult. To detect such gust fronts in fact a X band radar is necessary.

The NWS is using Doppler radar, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

Here the blue line is the gust front:


Yes, that is a totally different ball game! Found the information about the S band radar on the internet but that was what appears now ‘old news’…

The blue line could be turbulences showing up.

That’s an offshoot of Hurricane Katrina.

It was found that people generally don’t take storm warnings seriously. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, a memorable bulletin (the “10:11” bulletin) was issued by the Slidell office in the hours before landfall, describing a catastrophic picture and urging people in the path to flee or face death.

The template for that bulletin was developed earlier at the NHC.

The flip side of that coin is that people can and do become inured to such vivid language, and once again, tune it out.

1 Like

The warnings mostly come true, as they should – but the event is rarely as severe as the warning would suggest.

I used to like for their non-hyperbolic and restrained forecasts including graph lines for the various models, with their own forecast highlighted; but since they became darksky they’ve gone to hell, can’t even be internally consistent within a single forecast.

This is true and the NWS is well aware that a high percentage of the general public is going to ignore watches and warnings. But Ride the Ducks Branson is not the general public.

The duck boat company had three boats out on the water with about 30 people each, so about 90 people out on the lake in boats that are limited to 35 kts and 2 foot seas. Unlike the general public they have a responsibility to take appropriate action during warnings.

In the video at this link at about 1:00 the TV weather man is just about begging boaters to get off the lake. Meteorologists say derecho likely what hit Branson area the night of Duck Boat sinking

The NWS can’t take everyone by the hand and led them to safety, at some point people have to take responsibility for their own safety, this is especially true when members of the general public put their trust in a commercial marine operation.


Referring to the NWS radar, that is exactly what I was watching from home, about 10 miles west of the accident site, which I posted about above. That is what I look at a few times every day both because we have dock facilities on the lake and because I work at a golf course.

But, as I learned subsequently while watching a tornado reporting on TV, there is a significant delay in NWS radar. Sightings were being reported several miles out in front of the radar images. NWS radar updates every 8 minutes, but it appears that each update is a little behind, if I said that right.