Coast Guard Sets Port Condition ‘Yankee’ for Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee and Ft. Myers Due to Tropical Storm Elsa
By Space Coast Daily // July 5, 2021
TAMPA, FLORIDA – The Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) set modified port condition Yankee for the ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee, and Ft. Myers due to the expectation of sustained gale force winds from Tropical Storm Elsa that may arrive within 24 hours.
Cargo operations not associated with storm preparations are prohibited.
Mariners shall continue to monitor the storm and remain alert to changing conditions that could bring heavy weather to the area. The COTP will continue to evaluate weather predictions for the region and update port conditions as needed.
Sustained winds of at least 43 mph are possible within 24 hours. 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 oceangoing commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons must depart the ports and anchorages unless prior arrangements were made to safely moor in port. Final facility preparations should be completed.
All facilities shall continue to operate in accordance with their approved Facility Security Plans and comply with the requirements of Maritime Transportation Security Act.
The COTP may require additional precautions to ensure the safety of the ports and waterways. Coast Guard Port Assessment Teams will be conducting port surveys.
Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor. 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.
Be advised, Drawbridges in the area may cease operations as early as eight hours prior to the anticipated arrival of sustained gale force winds or when an evacuation is in progress. During lock-down, the bridge is closed, power is turned off, traffic arms may be removed, the control house is secured and the bridge operator is sent to safety.
If and when port condition Zulu is set, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 12 hours, vessel movement shall be restricted, and all movements must be approved by the COTP.
The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:
- 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 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 hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.
- Be cautious of coastal flooding. Significant rainfall and tide ranges can impact low areas. Boat bilges can over flow and cause unnecessary water pollution to occur. Paddlecraft, canoes and kayaks should be labeled and pulled well above the water line in anticipation of flooding to avoid unnecessary search and rescue cases of people not in distress.
- 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.
For information on Tropical Storm Elsa’s progress and tropical storm preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.