MIAMI – The Coast Guard established port readiness condition x-ray for the port of Key West effective at 10 a.m. Friday due to the expectation of sustained winds of 25 mph with wind gusts up to 40 mph.
The port of Key West is currently open to all commercial traffic, and all transfer operations may continue while x-ray remains in effect.
Mariners are reminded there are no safe havens in the port of Key West, and the port is safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. All oceangoing commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans if conditions deterioriate and port condition yankee is set.
Recreational boaters are advised to seek safe harbor. The Snake Creek drawbridge will be locked down when sustained winds reach 39 mph or when an evacuation is in progress.
Port facilities are advised to review their heavy-weather plan and to take all necessary precautions to adequately prepare for the expected conditions.
If and when port readiness condition yankee is set, meaning hurricane force winds are expected within 24 hours, vessel movement shall be restricted, and all movements must be approved by the Captain of the Port.
If and when port readiness condition zulu is set, meaning hurricane force winds are predicted within 12 hours, no vessels may enter or transit within the safety zone without the permission of the COTP. All vessel movements will be prohibited, and all ship-to-shore operations must be ceased.
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. 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 belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas so they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or sustaining damage. Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to and secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not 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. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
- Be prepared. Area residents should prepare now and develop a family plan, create a disaster supply kit, determine a place to go if necessary, secure their home and create a plan for pets. Information can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.
- Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Invest 99L through local television, radio and internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16, including small craft advisories and warnings.
For information on the progress of Invest 99L and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s web page at – http://ift.tt/riqYHz.