PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Captain of the Port for Coast Guard Sector Virginia has set Port Condition Zulu for the Port of Virginia at 4 p.m. Friday due to predicted tropical storm force winds generated by Tropical Storm Ophelia.
In port condition Zulu, the port is closed to all vessel traffic in the coastal waters of Virginia from Cape Charles Light south to the Virginia-North Carolina border. All port operations are suspended.
Pleasure craft 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.
The public should continue monitoring 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.
“With the impending weather conditions associated with Tropical Storm Ophelia, the Coast Guard and our port partners are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our maritime stakeholders and first responders,” said Capt. Peggy Britton, deputy commander of Sector Virginia. “Our Port will be reopened as soon as is safe and practicable for the continuity of commerce and our national security.”
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 tropical storms. 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 Virginia visit https://homeport.uscg.mil/port-directory/virginia.
More weather information on Tropical Storm Ophelia’s progress can be found at https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.