The Captain of the Port for New York and New Jersey set port condition ZULU for all commercial waterways, effective 7 a.m., Monday, in preparation for Hurricane Sandy.
During Port Condition ZULU (sustained gale force winds from a hurricane force storm are predicted within 12 hours) the ports will remain closed to all incoming and outgoing vessel traffic until directed by the Captain of the Port.
Owners and operators of recreational vessels should follow the small craft advisories from the National Weather Service, and take the necessary measures to safeguard the safety of their vessels.
"Coast Guard Sector New York's number one priority is the safety of life at sea for mariners and our first responders," said Capt. Gregory Hitchen, deputy commander Coast Guard Sector New York. "We're working closely with our port partners to keep a close watch on the waterways and beaches."
Elements of Coast Guard Port Readiness Condition ZULU include:
• This condition is set when gale force winds of 54 miles per hour from a tropical storm or hurricane are expected to arrive at the port within 12 hours.
• Waterfront facilities and marinas shall remove potential flying debris, hazardous materials and oil hazards form dockside areas.
• Vessels greater than 500 gross tons bound for this port must seek an alternate destination.
• Mariners are also advised that drawbridges will remain closed when wind speeds are 34 knots or greater or once evacuations begin. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closures, mariners are urged to seek passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale force winds.
The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:
• Stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. That is why boaters are urged to heed to weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
• Secure your belongings. Owners of larger boats are urged to move their boats to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage. Smaller 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 secure life rings, life jackets and small boats. These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search-and-rescue resources to be diverted to ensure they are not actually people in distress.
• Stay clear of beaches and low-lying areas. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by severe weather. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Residents are encouraged to heed to local evacuation warnings and orders because localized flooding can sometimes be associated with large amounts of rain.
• Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Hurricane Sandy through local television, radio and internet. The National Weather Service (NWS) broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly. The forecast can be heard by tuning into channels one through five on VHF marine radios or by checking the NWS webpage at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/.