NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard has begun securing its area of responsibility and adjusting port conditions along the Gulf Coast as the threat of Tropical Storm Nate continues to move north Thursday.
The Coast Guard urges all mariners to continuously monitor local and national weather sources and avoid coastal areas that may be impacted by the storm.
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 sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water, tied securely to trailers and stored in places not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to update their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon registration, and secure EPIRBs safely to vessels prior to a major storm. These devices often float free from vessels in marinas or at docks during hurricanes and signal a distress when there is none, endangering crews that respond when it isn’t necessary.
During the height of the storm, rescue assistance may be unavailable. Boaters and citizens should heed storm warnings, take early action to stay safe, and protect themselves and their families.
The Coast Guard has also set Port Condition Whiskey for the New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama, captain of the port zones. Port Condition Whiskey is set when gale force winds are possible within 72 hours. All commercial vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons and all oceangoing barges and their supporting tugs shall report to the Coast Guard captain of the port their intention to depart or remain in port. They shall also complete an application and submit it in writing within 24 hours to the Coast Guard captain of the port to remain in port.
All mariners are reminded that there are no safe havens in these ports and that the port is safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. For planning purposes, all oceangoing vessels and barges over 500 gross tons will be required to depart the ports and head out to sea when Hurricane Condition Yankee is set; generally 24 hours before the onset of gale force winds. Inland vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons are required to seek safe refuge in a port outside of the impacted ports.
All marine interests must take early and substantial action to ensure the safety of the port and vessels. Future port conditions cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty, but provided the storm remains on the projected course and track, port stakeholders should expect port conditions to continue to change for the next 48-72 hours.