With the approach of Hurricane Rita to the Gulf Coast, the maritime community and boating public are strongly urged to monitor its progress and take early action to protect themselves and their vessels.
Mariners are urged to secure their vessels for Hurricane Rita. The time to take action is now. As seen during Hurricane Emily and Katrina, those who heeded the warnings of Coast Guard and local law enforcement authorities were able to keep themselves, and first responders, out of jeopardy.
Mariners should take necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety should a storm or hurricane approach. Extremely high seas, heavy rains and damaging winds that accompany tropical storms
and hurricanes present serious dangers to mariners. Rescue and assistance by the Coast Guard and other agencies may be severely degraded or unavailable immediately before, during and after a devastating storm.
Drawbridges along the coast may deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed up to eight hours prior to the approach of gale force winds of 34 knots or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners should seek passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds. When in doubt, check in advance with the local Coast Guard marine safety office.
Adverse weather effects generated by a hurricane can cover an area hundreds of miles wide. Even those recreational boaters and the maritime industry who fall outside of the direct path of the storm are advised to be cognizant of dangerous weather conditions and take appropriate precautions to stay safe and minimize damage.