The Coast Guard has set port condition X-ray for all South Florida ports and terminals as Hurricane Matthew approaches the state.
As of the 11 a.m. National Hurricane Center advisory, Matthew is poised to hit Florida along the Atlantic coast. A hurricane watch has been issued from Deerfield Beach to Brevard County.
Port of Palm Beach, Port Miami, Port Everglades and Port of Fort Pierce are included in the Coast Guard’s advisory.
Port condition X-ray is set when sustained gale force winds of 25 mph and gusts up to 40 mph from Matthew are expected in the area within 48 hours.
The ports are still open to commercial traffic while condition X-ray is in effect. However, the Coast Guard says all commercial ships and barges greater than 500 gross tons should start preparing to leave port now.
Since yesterday, South Florida ports have been under port condition Whiskey. The next port condition would be Yankee, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 24 hours. At that time, traffic into and out of the port will be restricted.
The Coast Guard offers these safety tips for boaters ahead of the storm:
- 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. Trailerable 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 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.
More coverage of Hurricane Matthew: