Captain of the Port sets port condition WHISKEY

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The captain of the port for Port Canveral, Fla., Fernandina Beach, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., Savannah, Ga., and Brunswick, Ga., has established port readiness condition WHISKEY due to the potential impacts from Tropical Storm Hanna.

The ports are open to all commercial traffic and transfer operations may continue during this port condition. Threatening winds in excess of 39 mph from Tropical Storm Hanna are possible along the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina within 72 hours.

All oceangoing commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port. Vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the captain of the port to receive permission to do so and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing. Vessels bound for this port, which are unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall, are advised to seek an alternate destination.

Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. Drawbridges may not be operating when sustained wind speeds reach 25 mph or when an evacuation is in progress.

Port facilities are advised to review their heavy weather plan and take all necessary precautions to adequately prepare for the expected conditions.

Mariners can anticipate the Coast Guard setting port readiness condition X-RAY when gale force winds from Tropical Storm Hanna are within 48 hours of landfall.

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 should heed to 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 belongs. 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. 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 small boats. These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources 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 Tropical Storm Hanna. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.

Be prepared. Area residents can prepare for an impending storm by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets.

Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Tropical Storm Hanna through local television, radio and internet.

For information on the progress of Tropical Storm Hanna and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s web page at the following link – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

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