Coast Guard sets Port of Hampton Roads restrictions ahead of Hurricane Florence

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The Coast Guard has set port restrictions at Mid-Atlantic ports ahead of impacts from Hurricane Florence.

The Captain of the Port for Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina, has set Port Condition Zulu.

The Port of Hampton Roads is in a modified Port Condition Zulu.

Port Condition Zulu is set approximately 12 hours in advance of anticipated gale-force winds. That means the port and all port operations are suspended.

Under the modified conditions for Hampton Roads, some operations are being permitted on a case by case basis.

The Coast Guard is reminding folks to take the threat of Florence seriously.

"Do not go out on the water. It is not safe. So do not put down your guard based on what the conditions of the storm have done because it could still make an alteration, so do not go out on the water," Rear Admiral Keith Smith, Fifth Coast Guard District Commander, shared Wednesday.

The Coast Guard has shared these safety messages ahead of Hurricane Florence:

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. Trailerable 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.