Coast Guard prepares mariners for tropical storm Gabrielle

BOSTON- The U.S. Coast Guard is taking steps to advise mariners to take precautions along the Northeastern U.S. coast as Tropical Storm Gabrielle approaches.

The National Hurricane Center reports that TS Gabrielle is traveling north at 12 knots and packing sustained 50-knot winds. Tropical storm force winds are expected to impact the waters from Cape Cod to Nantucket Shoals and Georges Bank, Mass., late Monday night. Rough seas and rip currents are a primary concern. Seas are expected to build to 14-plus feet with wind speeds up to 40 knots as TS Gabrielle passes.

The Coast Guard’s First District Command Center in Boston initiated several pre-storm activities. An Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., HU-25 Falcon jet crew is flying along the coastline and broadcasting severe storm warnings via radio channels 16 and 21-A to commercial vessels, fishing vessels and boaters. Coast Guard units from New York to Massachusetts continue periodically airing severe weather Safety Marine Information Broadcasts (SMIB’s). Coast Guard Cutters Hammerhead, an 87-foot patrol boat based in Woods Hole, Mass., and Northland, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter based in Portsmouth, Va., are offshore for immediate search and rescue. Sector Southeastern New England is monitoring TS Gabrielle and is preparing to take additional steps as necessary.

The Coast Guard has also contacted commercial Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) companies to distribute these safety broadcasts to merchant vessels and fishing vessels. A VMS machine in a vessel transmits the vessel’s location via satellite to the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and it is used as an email advisory system during severe weather.

“Our primary concern is to ensure those who must be on the water, like merchant mariners on commercial ships, and commercial fishermen, have the information they need to take evasive measures to avoid Tropical Strom Gabrielle,” said Lt.j.g. Andrew Madjeska of the First District Command Center in Boston. “We especially want to warn boaters who may be considering to take to the sea to not do so, and those thinking of swimming or surfing in the storm-related waves to think twice. People need to be smart and make safe decisions.”

The Coast Guard advises boaters to take necessary precautions to secure their vessel, reconsider any plans to get underway, and heed these important severe weather safety messages:

  • Stay off of the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. That is why boaters are urged to heed to weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
  • Secure your boat and 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 to damage. Smaller boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who leave their boat in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets and small boats. These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure they are not actually people in distress.
  • Stay clear of beaches and low-lying areas. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by TS Gabrielle. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Residents are encouraged to heed to local evacuation warnings and orders because localized flooding can sometimes be associated with large amounts of rain.
  • Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of TS Gabrielle through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16 and 22-A. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16 and 22-A.

For information on TS Gabrielle’s progress, please visit the National Hurricane Center‘s web page.

For more information on hurricane and severe storm preparedness, please visit the U.S. Coast Guard Storm Center.

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