TAMPA, Fla. – The Coast Guard has set Port Condition ZULU for ports Tarpon Springs and north as gale-force winds from Hurricane Hermine threaten to impact the area within 12 hours.
Capt. Holly Najarian, Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg Captain of the Port, established Port Condition ZULU which states all vessel movement shall cease, with the exception of harbor assist tug-boats.
Port conditions are a series of escalating measures put in place to keep vessels and ports safe.
“We request and strongly urge boaters to closely monitor local weather, heed all warnings and contact emergency responders at the first sign of distress,” said Najarian. “Going out on the water in severe weather risks your life, passengers’ lives and the lives of emergency responders.”
Both recreational and commercial mariners should be aware of the following measures that may take place before the arrival of Hermine:
• 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 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 suffer 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 EPIRBs, life rings, lifejackets 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. 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 develop a family plan, create a disaster supply kit, have a place to go, and prepare to secure their home and care for their 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.
For information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane, please click here.
For information on the progress of Tropical Storm Hermine and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s web site.