The high surf resulting from Hurricane Bill's travels off the east coast last weekend got plenty of press, but an unrelated storm that hit Glen Canyon National Recreation Area with little warning offered a reminder that coastal areas aren't the only ones affected by high winds and waves.
Late in the afternoon on Saturday, August 22, personnel in the dispatch center in Page, Arizona noticed the approach of a severe storm. No weather warnings had been issued by the National Weather Service, but the dispatchers recognized the impending risk to boaters and broadcast an alert over the marine band radio channel. All boaters on Lake Powell were advised to take cover.
The brief but intense storm struck the lower end of Lake Powell at about 4:15 p.m. with winds gusting to 54 mph. Waves in Wahweap and Padre Bays on the lake reached heights of six to seven feet.
The storm was over in less than thirty minutes, but thirteen vessels, including a houseboat, were swamped by the wind and waves. Three NPS and one Utah State Parks patrol boats responded to distress calls from sixteen separate parties, and nineteen people were retrieved from locations around the lake.
There's one piece of good news from this incident: all of those who were picked up by rescue personnel were reported to be wearing life jackets, and no injuries were reported. Most of them had been able to make it to shore or shallow water on their own, but were unable to use their boats, because the vessels were swamped.