The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
MIAMI — Coast Guard Sector Miami Captain of the Port, Capt. Chris Scraba, increased to Port Condition Modified ZULU at 9:30 a.m. Friday restricting port operations and securing vessel movement within the Port of Palm Beach, Port of Fort Pierce, and all remaining terminals and facilities north of Hillsboro Inlet.
The Captain of the Port has been working in very close coordination with the Ports' Severe Weather Advisory Team on all port condition decisions.
The Captain of the Port has set Post Storm Condition NORMAL at 9:30 a.m. Friday for the Port of Miami, Miami River, and all remaining terminals and facilities south of Bakers Haulover Inlet; these facilities may return to normal operations.
Port Everglades and all remaining terminals and facilities south of Hillsboro Inlet and north of Bakers Haulover Inlet remain at Port Condition Modified YANKEE.
"The paramount consideration of the Captain of the Port is the safety of life at sea and the maritime environment," said Capt. Chris Scraba. "The storm has slowed considerably throughout the day and the Tropical Storm force wind field has increased in size such that it is incumbent upon the maritime community to remain ever-vigilant until this storm is well past all of our ports."
Port Condition ZULU
During Port Condition ZULU (sustained gale force winds from a hurricane force storm are predicted within 12 hours) the ports will remain closed to all incoming and outgoing vessel traffic until directed by the Captain of the Port.
Owners and operators of recreational vessels should follow the small craft advisories from the National Weather Service, and take the necessary measures to safeguard the safety of their vessels.
Elements of Coast Guard Port Readiness Condition ZULU include:
- This condition is set when gale force winds of 54 miles per hour from a tropical storm or hurricane are expected to arrive at the port within 12 hours.
- Waterfront facilities and marinas shall remove potential flying debris, hazardous materials and oil hazards form dockside areas.
- Vessels greater than 500 gross tons bound for this port must seek an alternate destination.
- The Captain of the Port will provide updates as needed and may be reached at (305) 535-4472 or via Channel 16 VHF FM marine radio through Coast Guard Sector Miami.
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. That is why boaters are urged to heed to weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
- Secure your belongings. Owners of larger boats are urged to move their boats to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage. Smaller 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, life jackets and small boats. 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 and low-lying areas. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by severe weather. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Residents are encouraged to heed to local evacuation warnings and orders because localized flooding can sometimes be associated with large amounts of rain.
- Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Tropical Storm Isaac through local television, radio and internet. The National Weather Service (NWS) broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. The forecast can be heard by tuning into channels one through five on VHF marine radios or by checking the NWS webpage at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/.
Boaters in distress can contact the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 or dial directly to (305) 535-4472.
This Marine Safety Information Bulletin will be updated as soon as storm conditions change. For additional information, please call Coast Guard Sector Miami at (305) 535-4472.