Storm damage on May 1 has caused dock owners to ask – Will my dock and lift be installed by Memorial Day? The second question is – Why do you set the dock so high? The answer to the first question is – It’s still too early to tell.
In an average season, installations will begin about April 1. Last year, there were several minor snow days in April. Three weeks into the season we experienced a late-season snowstorm of 23.2”. Obviously, this slowed us down even more. Once the snow stopped, it took a few days for it to melt and the properties to dry out enough that we could access them again.
The 2019 install season started as usual. Since then everyone has been hampered by
- High winds (mostly from the N and NE);
- Frequent rain has resulted in wet lawns and fields which mean – inaccessible properties; and
- High water levels again this year. (Yes, the water levels are even higher than in 2018.)
Also, keep in mind that in April, the water temperatures are barely above freezing and wet suits and waders provide little, if any, protection.
Let’s address each issue
Here’s an example of the storm damage that occurred on the morning of May 1, this year.
Around sunset on the evening of April 30th, the winds switched from the E to the NE. The winds kept building until 2 am. That’s when there was a sharp increase in wind gusts approaching 40 mph from the NE. These strong gusts lasted until 5 am and then tapered off, but only slightly. Combine this with steady winds – 20-30 MPH (all from the NE), and you have a recipe for storm damage. The result was a storm “surge” approaching 3 feet in water depth – with strong wave action on top of that.
The rising waters peaked about 10 am. This “surge,” combined with the wind gusts, resulted in damage to the docks that had already been installed. Some docks were completely submerged despite being set high above the current water depth. The result was we had to go back to assist those people with damage.
Here is the information provided by the National Weather Service.
National Weather Service data for May 1
HIGHEST WIND SPEED 30 HIGHEST WIND DIRECTION NE (40)
HIGHEST GUST SPEED 39 HIGHEST GUST DIRECTION NE (40)
AVERAGE WIND SPEED 14.5
WHAT CAUSES A STORM SURGE?
For a better explanation of why the water levels rise so high in Door County – see our previous post entitled – What is a water surge?
It’s also a good idea to refer to another post entitled – Boat Lift insurance which was published the morning before the storm. See the section on “wave damage.” By the way, we DO NOT have a direct line set up with Nature to anticipate these occurrences.
We are currently receiving actual photos to publish in this same article. Check back in a few days. Feel free to send any photos you may have. We may use them as well. Send them to email@example.com.
Heavy snow this winter and frequent rains throughout Spring means most lawns and access areas have standing water. We can not move our equipment over it until it drys or we risk heavy damage to your yard.
FAQ – WHY MUST MY DOCK BE SET SO HIGH?
The water levels have been rising for a couple of years. This forces us to extend the legs to accommodate the higher water. By doing that we help protect you from storm damage.
As mentioned in a previous post you may receive a call from John, our service manager, seeking your permission to add longer legs to accommodate the increased water depths. The only alternative is not to install all the sections of the dock – usually one less section. Putting in one less section may be a temporary “fix” to help this year, but it is not a guarantee.
John NEVER calls unless it is necessary because we know it costs more to add new legs and it slows our install schedule down. The biggest cost is the labor to remove and replace the existing legs.
If you have augers on the legs, your dock must be placed on its side to remove and replace the legs. Last year some legs were already very short due to the higher lake levels. With even more depth this year we anticipated this leg replacement to be more frequent. All of our trucks go out with extra material each morning in anticipation of needing to replace dock legs.
If you get a call from John that usually means the crews are at your site and need your response. Without it they must move on to another location. Please return John’s call ASAP to keep things moving.
Check back here each week for any updates on the installs. We’ll share as much information as we can.
PWS is located at 7325 St. Hwy 57. That’s 1 mile North of County MM (Hwy 42) and 3 miles South of Sturgeon Bay at the Idlewild Road intersection.