BUFFALO, N.Y. — One thing's for sure, Mother Nature is not going to be helpful in the interim with recovery efforts for the USS The Sullivans this week.
In a Facebook post Thursday morning it was reported by the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park that the USS The Sullivans was taking on a significant amount of water due to a "serious hull breach (that) occurred aft of midship on the starboard side." The ship could then be seen listing Thursday morning as it continued to take on more water throughout the day. By Thursday afternoon, the aft deck of the ship had tilted and started to touch the surface of the water.
Plans are now in place to find the source of the flooding, try to patch the hull of the ship and de-water the vessel. Updates on these efforts can be found here. However, Mother Nature is not going to be too kind to crews working on the ship's flooding heading into the weekend.
A strong cold front moved through Thursday morning and paved the way for a windy end to the week. As winds picked up in the morning, as small seiche occurred on the eastern end of Lake Erie. Water levels rose three feet when this occurred, up to 6.4 feet, before receding again to near normal levels of around 3 to 4 feet Thursday afternoon. Then Thursday night, Lake Erie water levels continued to recede and fell almost as low as 2 feet. These wavering water levels are likely not good for a listing and damaged vessel.
Friday's weather conditions won't be much better either as stronger winds are expected. A Wind Advisory has even been issued for much of Western New York with a southwesterly breeze of 25 to 35 mph expected with wind gusts up to 55 mph.
So the wind itself will be an issue, but with a consistent breeze of this magnitude and orientation, Lake Erie water levels near Buffalo could rise again. Another seiche with water levels rising up to 6 or 7 feet could occur Friday.
The Buffalo Police Department and the Buffalo Fire Department have closed off Memorial Walkway near USS The Sullivans as a precaution. We're also told the street by Mariner Towers is closed.