Coast Guard urges public to avoid going in or on the water as powerful storm system approaches Calif.

SAN PEDRO, Calif. — The Coast Guard cautions members of the public in coastal locations around southern California to be aware of dangerous and rapidly changing weather conditions. Storm warnings, high wind warnings and small craft advisories remain in effect in the region through late tonight, Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

A storm warning means winds of 40 to 63 nautical miles per hour are imminent or occurring. Recreational boaters should remain in port or take shelter until winds and waves subside. Commercial vessels should prepare for very strong winds and damaging sea conditions and consider remaining in port or taking shelter in port until winds and waves subside.

A high wind warning means that sustained winds of 40 miles per hour or greater or gusts of 60 miles per hour or greater are expected. Strong south to southeast winds increasing through the afternoon will make navigation on the water difficult if not impossible.

Small craft advisories are issued in response to expected wind and wave conditions that can be hazardous to smaller vessels. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid getting underway in these conditions.

This powerful storm has the potential to bring some of the strongest winds associated with a frontal system in years to much of southwest California. The Coast Guard strongly recommends that individuals avoid taking to the water until the seas subside. If it is necessary to get underway, mariners are urged to check all of their safety equipment to ensure it is in good condition and working properly.

The Coast Guard also encourages all vessel owners and operators to check the status of mooring and anchoring arrangements. During strong winds and heavy seas, vessels can break free from moorings, often a result of worn lines, an insufficient number of lines, or an improperly sized anchor and/or anchor chain. Adrift vessels pose several hazards to nearby people and vessels as they are tossed about, and can also pose environmental risks as any fluids or chemicals aboard can spill or leak. The Coast Guard urges vessel owners and operators to take extra precautions in anticipation of the forecasted storm system by addressing mooring safety and securing potential sources of marine pollution.

USCG Storm Center:

NOAA Marine Weather:

USCG Safe Boating:

If you have any problems viewing this article, please report it here.