Where did the water go? Odd rescue in Louisiana bayou blamed on weather phenomenon

U.S. Coast Guard photo
·2 min read

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three anglers from a Louisiana bayou after the water suddenly vanished under their boat.

It happened Sunday, Jan. 16, southeast of New Orleans, and the abrupt drop in water was credited to a weather phenomenon.

Storm fronts — like the one that crossed the Southeast over the weekend — can literally suck water out of marshes, experts say.

“Watchstanders received notification of an 18-foot flat bottom boat that ran aground due to sudden changes in water depth with three people aboard,” officials said in a news release.

“The helicopter crew arrived on scene, safely hoisted the three boaters and transported them to the Hopedale Marina. ... The boaters were last reported to be in stable condition.”

Louisiana’s “low-lying topography” can be drastically impacted by winds in advance of storm fronts, experts say.

Sometimes, those winds cause rapid rises in water, while other times, it “causes the water level to drop rapidly,” according to a study posted by the U.S. National Library of medicine National Institutes of Health.

The Coast Guard posted rescue details on Facebook with a warning.

“Mariners are advised to use caution and stay alert as winter weather systems can cause drastic changes in water levels,” Commander Roberto Trevino of the Coast Guard’s New Orleans Command Center said in the release.

The rescue came as a winter storm crossed the Southeast, dumping 15-plus inches of snow in some areas, along with freezing rain.

News of the rescue raised questions about whether the water drop was related to a weekend tsunami advisory on the West Coast (it wasn’t), while others joked the anglers simply weren’t paying attention as the tide went out.

However, boaters with experience in the region said they’ve seen the fast drops in water levels first hand.

“It’s a real thing,” Hunter Trouille posted on Facebook.

“I’ll have to agree. That’s been the case every time I’ve ever run a ground,” David Campbell wrote.

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