The Captain of the Port for North Carolina set Port Condition X-ray, and the COTP for Virginia and Maryland set Port Condition Whiskey as of Monday evening, indicating that hurricane-force conditions are anticipated.
Port Condition Whiskey indicates that sustained winds greater that 39 mph are possible within 72 hours. Condition X-ray is within 48 hours.
The Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City set X-ray at 9 p.m., Monday, with Hampton Roads anticipating the change to X-ray just after midnight. The COTP of Baltimore set a modified version of Whiskey Monday afternoon.
In port condition Whiskey, all commercial vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons and all tank barges greater than 200 gross tons desiring to remain in port must arrange safe mooring. They shall also complete an application and submit it in writing to the COTP within 24 hours to remain in port. Commercial vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons and tank barges greater than 200 gross tons departing the port must depart no later than 24 hours prior to the arrival of gale-force winds.
In port condition X-Ray, vessels more than 500 gross tons should make preparations to leave the port or have received permission from the COTP to remain in port. Vessels unable to depart the port must contact the COTP and submit a safe mooring plan in writing when requesting and prior to receiving permission to remain in port. Proof of facility owner/operator approval will be required.
The Coast Guard strongly cautions the maritime community to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions as Florence approaches.
Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. Maritime and port facilities are reminded to review and update their heavy weather response plans and make any additional preparations needed to adequately prepare in case of a potential impact to the area.
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 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.
Don’t rely on social media. People in distress should use 911 to request assistance whenever possible. Social media should not be used to report life-threatening distress due to limited resources to monitor the dozens of social media platforms during a hurricane or large-scale rescue event.
For information on Hurricane Florence’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s website.
Visit the Coast Guard’s Homeport for current port conditions at Homeport.USCG.mil.