Coast Guard encourages Virginia and N.C. boaters to be cautious as a storm front passes through the area

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard urges mariners in Virginia and North Carolina to focus on safety and monitor the weather as a storm front passes through the area.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a gale-force wind warning from 11 a.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Thursday and forecasts wind speeds of 40-46 mph with gusts up to 57 mph and 4-6 foot seas.

Coast Guard sectors are monitoring the weather conditions in their areas and units will remain operational and response-ready.

The Coast Guard urges mariners to always:

* Stay Informed – The public should be aware of weather conditions and monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio and internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF channel 16.

* Check the current and expected weather and water conditions before heading out, and be aware that weather conditions can quickly change.

* Wear their life jackets while on the water.

* File a float plan with friends, family members and their local marina before heading out. The list should include the number of passengers aboard the vessel, their destination and expected time of return.

* Always have a working radio onboard as cell phone coverage varies from region to region.

* Have marine flares onboard the vessel to signal rescuers while in distress and emergency situations.

* Keep a Global Positioning System or Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon so that they may be easier to locate in the event of distress.

* Secure your belongings – Owners of recreational boats are urged to take appropriate precautions to prevent damage to their boats and others.

Updated weather forecasts for your area can be found at www.noaa.gov

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