KEY WEST — Effective 10:00 a.m. Friday, Capt. Jeffrey Janszen, Coast Guard Captain of the Port, set Port Condition X-RAY for Key West, Fla., ports, terminals and facilities due to the current projected path for Tropical Storm Erika.
During Port Condition X-RAY (48 hours before gale-force winds make landfall) all maritime operations, including waterfront facility and vessel transits, may occur until further notice and are subject to prudent seamanship and safe working practices.
The Coast Guard anticipates that the port condition may be increased to YANKEE if the track for Tropical Storm Erika remains as forecasted. During severe weather the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue capabilities are likely to be diminished.
Anticipate Snake Creek Draw Bridge closing at 2000 on 29 August.
During Port Condition X-RAY Ocean-going ships and barges greater than 500 gross tons departing South Florida ports must depart no later than 12 hours prior to the arrival of gale force winds (Port Condition Zulu).
Container terminal operators shall reduce container stack heights to no more than three high, or propose alternate securing arrangements to the Captain of the Port. The Captain of the Port may require additional precautions to ensure the safety of the ports and waterways. Vessels bound for South Florida ports, which are unable to arrive 12 hours prior to the arrival of gale force winds are advised to seek an alternate destination.
Ports, facilities and operators should anticipate additional restrictions on inbound and outbound traffic as Tropical Storm Erika approaches.
Waterfront facilities should be removing potential flying debris, hazardous materials and pollutants from dockside areas.
Pleasure craft operators are advised to seek safe harbor. 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 sustaining damage.
Trailer able 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 and precluded from assisting people who may actually be in distress.
Mariners should prepare for impending severe weather prior to the anticipated arrival of gale force winds or when an evacuation is in progress.
Owners and operators of recreational vessels should follow small craft advisories from the National Weather Service and take the necessary measures to safeguard the safety of their vessels, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov.