Source: United States Coast Guard
Coast Guard sets modified port condition Yankee for port of Tampa
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Effective 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) set modified port condition Yankee for the ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee, and Ft. Myers due to the expectation of sustained gale force winds from Tropical Storm Eta that may arrive within 24 hours.
The COTP is currently not directing any vessels to depart.
Cargo operations in association with storm preparations are also authorized to continue at this time. Bulk liquid terminals must ensure all transfer hoses and loading arms are drained, flanged and secured.
Sustained winds between 35 and 43 mph are possible within 24 hours. Mariners are reminded there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. All oceangoing commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons must be prepared to depart the ports and anchorages unless prior arrangements are made to safely moor in port.
Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. Port facilities are advised to review their heavy weather plans and take all necessary precautions to adequately prepare for the expected conditions. Mariners can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.
Be advised, about eight hours prior to the predicted arrival of sustained gale force winds most bridges will be locked down and will not open until after the severe weather has passed. It is critical that vessels intending to evacuate the Tampa ports depart early to avoid being blocked by bridges.
If and when port condition Zulu is set, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 12 hours, vessel movement shall be restricted, and all movements must be approved by the COTP.
The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:
- Stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
- Evacuate as necessary. If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public should evacuate without delay. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm.
- Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.
- Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
- Be cautious of coastal flooding. Significant rainfall and tide ranges can impact low areas. Boat bilges can over flow and cause unnecessary water pollution to occur. Paddlecraft, canoes and kayaks should be labeled and pulled well above the water line in anticipation of flooding to avoid unnecessary search and rescue cases of people not in distress.
- Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.
- Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.
For information on Tropical Storm Eta progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s webpage
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