The U.S. Coast Guard declared Port Condition Yankee for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday afternoon and expects to declare Port Condition Zulu at 8 a.m. Friday, closing the port in anticipation of a near pass by Tropical Depression 13, which is approaching the northern Leeward Islands.
The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm watch for the U.S. and the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
While Tropical Depression 13 has not intensified, it maintains a west-northwest movement at 21 miles per hour with top winds of 35 miles per hour. Gradual intensification is forecast, and the depression may become a tropical storm on Friday. At 5 p.m. Thursday, the center was located near 16.7 degrees North, 53.9 degrees West, about 716 miles east of the Virgin Islands.
On the predicted track, the depression is expected to move near or north of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday. Based on this advisory, the center of the depression will make its closest point of approach to the Virgin Islands early Saturday morning when the storm’s center passes some 71 miles north-northeast of St. John. At that time, the system will likely be a tropical storm with winds averaging 45 to 50 miles per hour.
Port Condition Yankee
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s announcement, during Port Condition Yankee the port is closed to all inbound commercial vessel traffic unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port in San Juan. Vessels without approved applications to remain in port shall depart at this time.
“Mariners are reminded there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum,” the Coast Guard said, adding these advisories:
– Pleasure craft owners are advised 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 can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.
The Coast Guard Captain of the Port San Juan anticipates setting Port Condition Zulu at 8 a.m. Friday for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. These dates and times are subject to change based on future forecasts.
If and when Port Condition Zulu is set, meaning sustained gale force winds are possible within 12 hours, the port is closed to all vessel traffic unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port. Cargo operations would be suspended, including bunkering and lightering.