Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lightning and Thunder at Slack Tide Make Swim Exciting

About 30 minutes before the Pony Swim began this morning, a huge massing of dark storm clouds appeared. The National Weather Service warned of a severe cloud-to-ground lightning storm cell headed right at the Swim site.  We can't change or fight Mother Nature.  Lightning could be seen and thunder heard when the EMS folks announced over their speakers that people watching the Pony Swim from trees had to get back onto the ground, and folks with metal-tipped umbrellas were ordered to stow them away.  The storm swept down on the crowd, and in less than a minute, everyone was completely soaked with rain.  While it was raining, lightning was crackling overhead and thunder boomed - and the Coast Guard sent up the red flare to mark Slack Tide.  The Saltwater Cowboys eased the combined herds closer to the water, and when there seemed to be a break in the lightning strikes, the ponies were herded into the Channel.  They began their swim at 11:17 (EDT), and  the last pony arrived on Chincoteague 5 minutes and 20 seconds later.  It was still pouring rain.  The ponies have been rested and moved on to the Carnival Grounds.
  Due to the weather, there are very few photos available at this time.  I only have photos, so far, leading up to the storm, and one of the Parade on Main Street (no actual Swim photos yet):
Crowds waiting for the Pony Swim

Another view of the waiting crowd

Denise Bowden of the CVFC throws pony merchandise to those waiting

Saltwater Cowboys bring the herd along a very wet Main Street

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