MIAMI (WFLA) — The U.S. Coast Guard has placed the Port of Key West on port condition Yankee as of 8 a.m. Sunday due to the winds the area may see from Tropical Storm Elsa.
A Coast Guard release states the port could see gale force winds up to 35 miles per hour and gusts up to 43 miles per hour within a day.
All ports and facilities are still open to commercial traffic during port condition Yankee, but the Coast Guard said the ports aren’t safe havens for mariners, stating that the ports are safest when they have as few vessels as possible.
The Coast Guard advises ocean-going commercial vessels and ocean-going barges weighing 300 gross tons and higher should begin leaving the port. Those who want to stay need to contact the Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Key West with a written safe mooring plan to get permission.
The Coast Guard said ships going to South Florida that can’t depart eight hours before landfall are asked to find a different destination. Pleasure water crafts must find safe harbor.
Aside from complications on sea, the Coast Guard is asking land facilities to be prepared.
“Drawbridges may not be operating if sustained winds reach 25 mph or when an evacuation is in progress,” a Coast Guard release states. “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.”
The Coast Guard may place port condition Zulu into place once gale force winds are expected within 12 hours. This would require regulated facilities to submit a facility readiness survey to the captain of the port before port condition Yankee is set.