Effective 8 a.m. Sunday, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port San Juan set port condition Whiskey for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgins Islands due to the possibility of sustained gale force winds greater than 39 mph from Hurricane Irma that may arrive within 72 hours.
The Captain of the Port San Juan cautioned the maritime community to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions, as Irma has been forecasted to have the potential to develop into a category 4 hurricane.
During port condition Whiskey port facilities are open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue while Whiskey remains in effect, the Coast Guard explained in a news release issued Sunday.
The advisory included the following:
– Pleasure craft to seek safe harbor.
– Maritime and port facilities are reminded to review and update their heavy weather response plans and make any additional preparations needed to adequately prepare in case of a potential impact to the area.
– Mariners are reminded there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum.
– All ocean-going commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port.
The Coast Guard said it anticipates setting port condition XRay at 8 a.m. Monday for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. These dates and times are subject to change based on future forecast.
During port condition XRay, sustained winds greater that 39 mph are possible within 48 hours.
The Coast Guard also advised the public to take these safety measures:
– 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 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 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 Internet, television and radio. 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.
– Information on how to prepare your boat or trailer for a hurricane can be found at the Coast Guard’s Storm Center webpage: https://www.uscg.mil/news/stormcenter/.
At 5 a.m. AST the center of Hurricane Irma was near latitude 18.0 North, longitude 47.5 West. Irma is moving toward the west southwest near 15 mph.
More weather information on Hurricane Irma’s progress can be found at the National Hurricane Center’s website. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.