Coast Guard sets port condition X-ray for Hampton Roads area

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – In preparation for the arrival of Tropical Storm Hanna, the Coast Guard has set port condition X-ray for the Captain of the Port zone in Virginia. This zone encompasses the ports of Hampton Roads and Richmond, Va., the Atlantic Intra Coastal Waterway and all navigable inlets and waterways. .

Coast Guard liaisons are working with state responders at the emergency operations center in Richmond in anticipation of flood rescue operations.

The ports of Hampton Roads and Richmond are currently under port condition X-ray. This readiness condition is set when gale force winds (39-62 mph) from a hurricane force storm are expected to arrive at the port within 48 hours.

Under condition X-ray:

Coast Guard port survey teams patrol throughout critical and sensitive waterways looking for potentially high risk vessels or operations that could become a navigation hazard or environmental disaster with the passage of severe weather.

All oceangoing vessels over 500 gross tons and all oceangoing barges over 200 gross tons and their supporting tugs must prepare to depart port.

Vessels that desire to stay in port must contact the Captain of the Port to request and receive permission.

Vessels transporting oil or other hazardous materials may be restricted or denied entry in to the port.

An Executive Steering Committee of port representatives will coordinate use of resources needed to assist vessels in port and to determine berthing priorities.

As Tropical Storm Hanna approaches, the Coast Guard urges people to be mindful of the following safety tips:

– Stay Informed: The public should monitor the progress and strength of Hanna through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF channel 16.

– Evacuate as Necessary: If mandatory evacuations are set for an area, the public is urged to heed evacuation orders. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate those in danger during the storm.

– 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. 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, life jackets and small boats.

– Be Cautious of Hazardous Materials: If you have hazardous materials on or near the water you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the necessary precautions to secure them prior to any foul weather.

– Stay Clear of Beaches: Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by Hanna. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe.

Mariners are reminded that drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 34 knots or greater, and whenever an evacuation is ordered. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners should seek early passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds. When in doubt, check with the local Coast Guard Sector Command.

In case of an emergency the public is encouraged to contact the Coast Guard Command Center in Portsmouth at (757) 483-8567.

For more information on Hanna, visit the National Hurricane Center Web site http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

For further information on port conditions within the 5th Coast Guard District, visit www.hanna.uscgstormwatch.com

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