S. Florida ports under “condition whiskey” as Hurricane Matthew threatens

The National Hurricane Center said preparations should be under way.

The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast is shown above.

South Florida’s ports, including the Port of Palm Beach, have been placed under condition whiskey, which occurs when gale-force winds are expected within 72 hours, but remain open,  the U.S. Coast Guard said today.

The Coast Guard also advised pleasure craft to seek safe harbor.

As of 8 a.m. today, the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port  set port condition whiskey for Port Miami, Miami River, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, Port of Ft. Pierce and all other South Florida terminals and facilities due to the forecast that Hurricane Matthew will track near southeast Florida.

Condition whiskey is set when gale force winds from a hurricane are expected to arrive at the port within 72 hours.  Under whiskey, active monitoring has begun, and the Port of Palm Beach is communicating the requirements, such as that debris be secured, to tenants,  said port spokeswoman Tara Monks.

The Coast Guard said the  ports and facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic, and all transfer operations may continue while whiskey is in effect.

Area marinas reported business as usual, but said some boaters were still venturing out, but staying in the Intracoastal Waterway.

Courtnie Sumner, an employee at Jupiter Pointe Club & Marina, Tequesta, said, “We do have a few boat club members who were supposed to go offshore, but it’s pretty rough.”

Three people  canceled their plans, while others decided to take their boats out, but stay in the Intracoastal, Sumner said.

At North Palm Beach Marina, office manager Gabrielle Arsenault said one boat left for Key West. Boat owners at the marina do not have to move their  boats because the marina is a hurricane hole, she said, which means surges from the waves do not enter the marina.

The Coast Guard said  ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum.  All oceangoing commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port.

Vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the Captain of the Port at 305-535-4472 to receive permission to do so and are required to submit a safe-mooring plan in writing.  Vessels bound for South Florida unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.

 

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