The Coast Guard is urging boaters and members of the maritime community across the Gulf Coast to prepare for Tropical Storm Karen.
According to the National Weather Service, projected paths for Karen indicate that it could make landfall early Saturday morning along the eastern half of the Gulf Coast.
Coast Guard units across the projected path have made preparations to maintain response after the storm passes.
The Coast Guard urges the public to remember the following during a storm:
• Stay informed. The public should monitor progress and strength of the storm by checking the National Weather Service website and staying tuned to local reports. Boaters can monitor the storm’s progress on a weather channel on VHF-FM marine-band radio; small craft advisories are also available on channel 16.
• Mandatory evacuation orders should be obeyed. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to respond to emergencies during a storm.
• Secure your boats and boating equipment. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas, where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or otherwise be damaged. Boats that can be trailered should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Mariners who leave their boats in the water are reminded to properly secure life rings, life jackets and fenders.
• Stay clear of beaches. Swimmers are urged to avoid beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Rip currents and undertows can drag swimmers away from their boat or the beach, which can lead to death by drowning when they attempt to fight the current and become exhausted.
• Be cautious of hazardous materials. If you have hazardous materials on or near the water, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take precautions to secure the materials prior to any foul weather.
The Coast Guard also reminds mariners that drawbridges along the coast can deviate from normal operating procedures prior to a storm. They are generally authorized to remain closed as long as eight hours before the approach of gale-force winds of 32 mph or greater and whenever an evacuation is ordered. Because of the uncertainty of weather movements and related bridge closings, mariners should seek passage through drawbridges well in advance of the arrival of gale-force winds.
The Coast Guard will conduct assessments after the storm passes that include port overflights, aids-to-navigation inspections and the resumption of normal operations at all units. Unit personnel are not being evacuated and standard duty crews will be maintained, although rescue response may be limited during the height of the storm.
For information on port conditions in the following areas, please use the links below:
For information on storm or hurricane preparedness, visit the National Hurricane Center’s website.