Coast Guard Urges Mariners to Exercise Caution as Storm System Approaches California Coast

SAN DIEGO — The National Weather Service forecast is calling for winds to remain between 20-30 m.p.h. with gusts up to 45 m.p.h., through Wednesday night and waves are expected to be 10 feet or higher in some areas.

A strong Pacific storm system is bringing cold temperatures, high winds, heavy precipitation, and rough seas to the San Diego area. The conditions could potentially become worse than forecasted as the system approaces.

“We are anticipating pretty heavy seas and strong gale force winds over the next few days,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrea Toledo of Station San Diego. “Mariners are advised to heed the warnings of the Coast Guard and make sure they pay close attention to the weather.”

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that people avoid going near beaches or other low-lying coastal areas, especially jetties and rocky areas, over the next several days. Large waves can quickly, and unexpectedly sweep a person from these areas. Even the strongest swimmers can quickly be overtaken by the power of the sea, especially when the cold-water temperatures are factored in.

Given the cold temperatures associated with this system, and the cold Pacific waters, hypothermia is a major concern.

If it is necessary to get underway, mariners are urged to check that all of their safety equipment is in good condition.

There should be a personal flotation device onboard for each person, sized accordingly. If boaters will be traveling offshore, it is strongly recommended that there be an immersion suit or other full-body protection, as water temperatures will be cold, and hypothermia can quickly overtake the average person.

All boaters should also ensure they have a working marine VHF radio on board to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 in case of an emergency. The CG reminds mariners that channel 16 is an emergency frequency. Broadcastiing false distress calls can result in prison time, severe fines, and liability for any costs incurred as a result of search efforts.

The Coast Guard also strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading. It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

As the storm season for Southern California continues, the Coast Guard also encourages all boaters to check the status of mooring and anchor lines, and replace worn lines if necessary. During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can come loose from the pier or anchor due to worn lines, or not having enough lines attached to the pier or having a heavy enough anchor.

Vessels adrift can become hazardous to nearby vessels as they are tossed about, and can become hazards to navigation once the storm has passed. These vessels can also pose environmental risk as any fluids or chemicals onboard can spill or leak should the vessel break apart.

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