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Weather to be key factor as NWS to assist in NTSB Seacor investigation

Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The week of April 13th, meteorologists had an eye on the consistent rain and thunderstorms across southern Louisiana.

“We knew there were going to be some strong to severe thunderstorms,” said The National Weather Service’s Lauren Nash.

As the winds picked up that Tuesday, the warnings went out and the National Weather Service turned to helping the Coast Guard respond to the capsized Seacor Power off the Gulf Coast.

“After 4:35 our main focus was to help the search and rescue efforts for the Coast Guard, you know, letting them know there’s weather incoming if there’s weather in the area, how to keep themselves safe, and any other rescue operations that they need to be doing on the water,” said Nash. The NTSB will take the lead on the investigation, but the weather will be a main factor.

“We are going to be looking at three things. The first is the people involved both at sea and ashore. We will be looking at the vessel and the equipment and also we’ll be looking at the conditions that were there on the day of the accident. That’s really where we are starting,” said Drew Ehlers with the NTSB.

The national weather services’ Lauren Nash explains their primary role is to provide the data. “We have the responsibility to provide lots of warnings and advisories, so we do provide severe thunderstorm warnings we provide special marine warnings, and then once we send those out,” she said.

Fox 8: Do we think the folks out of Port Fourchon had the watches and warnings that you all were putting out that night?

Nash: “We don’t know. That will be part of the NTSB investigation into the accident…. we kind of just step back and provide the data and provide the information and it’s their job to investigate and determine, you know what, not just what happened but you know what can we do better next time what can anybody do better next time. How can we keep people safe.”

“Weather is going to be the central part of this investigation for the simple matter we had violent winds that were moving from the lake to the gulf during the afternoon shortly before three they issued warnings for the gulf of Mexico,” said Fox 8 Chief Meteorologist David Bernard.

Bernard says the weather data from that event is clear, it’s the reactions that are in question.

“There will be two factors they look at one what were the actual conditions meteorologically that’s pretty easy to discern because we have this radar data, but then it comes down to what were the human factors that went into this disaster who made the decisions when and for what reason,” said Bernard.

Another agency involved in the investigation is the American Bureau of Shipping that released the following statement:

“We can confirm that the SEACOR POWER liftboat offshore support vessel is ABS classed. ABS remains available to assist the vessel’s owner in any way possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost at sea, the surviving crew, and all those who tirelessly assisted with the rescue efforts.

At this time, we have undertaken a record review and all vessel certificates are in order. ABS will support and cooperate fully in the investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board.”

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