The U.S. Coast Guard is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian.
Condition Whiskey went into effect Wednesday night, which means all ocean-going commercial vessels and ocean-going barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing port.
The Coast Guard is reminding mariners that there are no safe havens at the ports and that the ports are safest when a minimum number of vessels are there. Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor well in advance of deteriorating weather.
Vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the Coast Guard Captain of the Port to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing.
Vessels bound for the Port of Jacksonville that are unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.
Port facilities are advised to review their heavy weather plans and take all necessary precautions to adequately prepare for the expected conditions. Mariners can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.
For now, the ports and facilities remain open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations.
The Coast Guard is also advising the public about what to do in regards to area waterways as severe weather approaches:
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 weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
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 to sustaining damage. Trailer-able 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 remove EPIRBs and to 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 caused by tropical storms or 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 the storm 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.
Don't rely on social media. People in distress should use 911 to request assistance whenever possible. Social media should not be used to report life-threatening distress due to limited resources to monitor the dozens of social media platforms during a hurricane or large-scale rescue event.