Port Condition X-RAY set for Connecticut, Long Island Sound

1st Coast Guard District NewsNEW YORK – Effective 4 p.m, Thursday, Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Capt. Joseph Vojvodich, increased port conditions for the Sector Long Island Sound to X-RAY, due to the expectation that gale force winds generated by Hurricane Irene may arrive within 48 hours.

Ports are currently open to all commercial traffic. The COTP will issue additional Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts as the storm approaches and port conditions change, including bridge or waterway closures.

Owners, operators or agents of all oceangoing vessels over 500 gross tons, and all barges and other waterborne structures being used for berthing must immediately advise the COTP if they intend to remain in port throughout the storm by completing a remaining in port checklist, and submit it to the COTP within 24 hours for approval.

Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. Drawbridges may not be operating if sustained winds reach 25 mph or when an evacuation is in progress.

Port facilities are advised to review their heavy weather plans and take all necessary precautions to adequately prepare for the expected conditions.

Mariners can anticipate the Coast Guard setting port readiness condition YANKEE when gale force winds from Hurricane Irene are within 24 hours of landfall.

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. That is why boaters should heed 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 where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage.  Trailerable 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 smallboats. These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources to be diverted to ensure they are not actually people 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 caused by hurricanes.  Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.

Be prepared. Area residents should be prepared by developing a family plan, creating a disaster supply kit, having a place to go, securing their home and having 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 Hurricane Irene through local television, radio and Internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

The maritime Heavy Weather Plan for the Captain of the Port Long Island sound is posted at: http://homeport.uscg.mil/lis

For information on Hurricane Irene’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s web page at the following link – http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.

For information about hurricane preparedness visit http://www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/hurricanes.html.

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