Source: United States Coast Guard
Coast Guard sets port condition Zulu for ports of Tampa
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Effective 8 a.m. Wednesday, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) set port condition Zulu for the ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee, and Ft. Myers due to the expectation of sustained gale force winds 35-43 mph or higher from Tropical Storm Eta.
While port condition Zulu is in place no vessels may enter or transit within these ports without permission of the COTP.
All vessel movements are prohibited at this time. Final facility preparations should be completed. Mariners can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.
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.
For more breaking news follow us on Twitter and Facebook.