The U.S. Coast Guard has set port condition Whiskey for all ports in South Florida as of 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Those ports include, PortMiami, Miami River, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach and the Port of Fort Pierce.
The condition was set because of the expectation of sustained gale force winds of 25 mph and gusts up to 40 mph generated by Hurricane Irma that may arrive within 72 hours.
Officials said the ports are currently open to all commercial traffic, but commercial vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans to depart whichever port they are docked at.
Those who own vessels that they wish to remain at the port must contact the Coast Guard captain of the port to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing.
The Coast Guard said vessels bound for South Florida unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall in the area are advised to seek an alternate destination.
Locals who own boats are also advised to seek safe harbor as soon as possible because drawbridges might not be operating if sustained winds reach 25 mph or when an evacuation is in progress.
The Coast Guard said that if port condition Yankee is set, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 24 hours, vessel movement will be restricted, and all movements must be approved by the captain of the port.
Below is a list of warnings for boat owners from the Coast Guard:
• 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. 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 update your Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registration, and secure them safely to your vessel prior to a major storm. These devices often float free from vessels in marinas or at docks during hurricanes and signal a distress when there is none. 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.
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.