Thunderstorm causes scary moments on Lake Mead - 8 News NOW

Thunderstorm causes scary moments on Lake Mead

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LAKE MEAD, Nev. -- When the monsoonal storms pounded southern Nevada Tuesday afternoon, one of the worst places to be was on Lake Mead.

Park rangers were flooded with calls and 11 rescues had to take place on the water. One woman was stranded for more than three-and-a-half hours, in open water without a life jacket.

Park rangers and game wardens had only half an hour to get the word out that a severe storm was on its way. They sent emergency messages on marine band radio every five minutes that a monsoon was coming down hard with a powerful punch.

As a game warden, Adam Bonaparte spends a lot of his days on Lake Mead. It can be hot and humid like it was Wednesday, but Tuesday was a day he won't soon forget.

The storm was severe.

"It kind of came out of nowhere. We didn't expect it to hit as hard as it did," Bonaparte said.

When the sky turned nasty, Bonaparte got on his boat and rushed to the rescue because this was an all-out emergency on Lake Mead.

"We received many distress calls, and we actually had to make about 10 or 11 rescues of people who were out on the water," Lake Mead National Recreation Area spokeswoman Christie Vanover said.

The wild weather came up quickly creating five to six foot waves and swells in a matter of minutes. It was about as rough as it gets out on Lake Mead.

"It turned into a nightmare. We just hid out in a cove. It got pretty scary with all the kids on the boat," Theresa Bangle, from Huntington Beach, California, said.

Bangle says this was the worst storm she has seen out here in 15 years.

"It was really crazy. At one point, some people were crying. And then some people were sinking. There was a boat that started sinking and we saw it all happen," 10-year-old Makayla Bangle said.

Chopper 8 flew over a capsized boat Wednesday morning, hours after the storm passed.

But Tuesday night, one family's outing almost turned deadly. A woman was swimming by her personal watercraft, without a life jacket, when the storm unleashed its fury.

She was forced to tread water for almost four hours.

"We are very, very lucky. I think she dodged a bullet. Don't take your life jacket off. Leave it on all the time," Mitch Calderwood, whose wife survived storm on Lake Mead, said.

That advice was echoed by the game wardens, especially this time of year.

"The storms will sneak up on us. Lake Mead has a lot of wind, so the wind will cause rough seas," Bonaparte said.

When you see clouds forming, game wardens say it's best to get to a marina if you can. Otherwise, head to shore, or a cove, protect your boat and ride the storm out.

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