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US Coast Guard sets Port Condition Four for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands


Hurricane Irma five-day forecast track. NHC graphic

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Effective 1 pm on Thursday, the US Coast Guard Captain of the Port San Juan set Port Condition Four for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The maritime community was strongly urged to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions, as tropical cyclone Irma has been forecast to have the potential to develop into a Category 4 hurricane.

During Port Readiness Condition Four, port facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue until further notice. 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.

At this time, the Coast Guard anticipates setting Port Readiness Condition Whiskey on Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 10 am for the US Virgin Islands and 8 pm for Puerto Rico. These dates and times are subject to change based on future forecast.

During Port Readiness Condition Whiskey, sustained winds between 39 and 54 mph are possible within 72 hours. Mariners were reminded there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. All ocean-going commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port.

The Coast Guard warned the public of these important safety messages:

• 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 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.