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Press Release | Sept. 21, 2023

Coast Guard sets port condition Yankee for the Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City in anticipation of tropical storm

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Captain of the Port of North Carolina has set Port Condition Yankee for the Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City in anticipation of Potential Tropical Cyclone 16 which is expected to impact the area within the next 24 hours.  

The Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City are closed to all inbound traffic. No vessel may enter the Ports of Wilmington or Morehead City without the permission of the Captain of the Port.

All self-propelled oceangoing vessels over 500 gross tons, all oceangoing barges and their supporting tugs, and all tank barges over 200 gross tons departing the Ports of Wilmington or Morehead City must schedule their departure to clear the sea buoy upon the setting of Port Condition Zulu.

All commercial vessels and barges with authorization from the Captain of the Port and port facility to remain in the Ports of Wilmington or Morehead City must be at their site in accordance with their approved application upon the setting of Port Condition Zulu. Movement within the port is allowed, including towing and assist vessels.

Owners of pleasure craft are advised to closely monitor weather reports and seek safe harbor well before storm conditions arrive. Drawbridges may not be operating if sustained winds reach 25 mph or when an evacuation is in progress. 

Vessels bound for the Ports of Wilmington or Morehead City without permission from the Captain of the Port to enter must seek an alternative destination. 

If port conditions are elevated as tropical storm force winds approach, vessel movements will be restricted, and all movements must be approved by the Captain of the Port.   

The captain of the port anticipates setting port condition Zulu for the Port of Wilmington at 1:00 a.m. on Friday, September 22 and the Port of Morehead City will be set at 9:00 p.m. tonight. In port condition Zulu, the port is closed, and all port operations are suspended.

Additionally, the Coast Guard encourages the public to: 

  • 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. 
  • 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 or rescue 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 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 hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe. 
  • Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio, and the Internet. Information can also be obtained on small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16. 

For the most current information on port condition updates in North Carolina visit

More weather information on Tropical Cyclone 16 progress can be found at