MIAMI — Effective 2 p.m. Wednesday, Captain of the Port (COTP), Capt. Chris Scraba, increased port conditions for the Port of Miami and Port Everglades to X-RAY, due to the expectation that gale force winds generated by Hurricane Sandy may arrive within 48 hours.
Waterfront facilities should be removing potential flying debris, hazardous materials and oil pollution hazards from dockside areas. Secure all hazmat and potential sources of pollution due to the potential for heavy rain run-off.
Vessels more than 500 gross tons should begin to make preparations to leave the port or request 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, prior to receiving permission to remain in port. Proof of facility owner/operator approval is required.
Inbound vessels unable to depart the port if Port Condition YANKEE is set, are advised to seek an alternate destination. Container terminal operators shall reduce general cargo container stack heights to no more than four high and hazardous material cargo container stacks to no more than two high, or propose alternate securing arrangements to the COTP. The COTP may require additional precautions to ensure the safety of the ports and waterways.
Although not currently anticipated, should the storm track west, the COTP may close the Ports to incoming traffic as early as 8:00am on October 25, 2012. Broadcast Notice to Mariners will be used to announce impending port closures and any special conditions deemed necessary by the COTP.
Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. Drawbridges may not be operating as early as eight hours prior to the anticipated arrival of sustained gale force winds (39 mph) or when an evacuation is in progress.
The Coast Guard is reminding 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. That is why 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 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 damage. Trailerable 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 secure life rings, lifejackets and smallboats. These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources to be diverted to ensure they are not actually people 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 determine 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 Nation Hurricane Center’s webpage.
- Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Hurricane Sandy 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 how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane, please click here.
For information on Hurricane Sandy’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s web page at the following link – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.