ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard is encouraging boaters to stay off the water Thursday due to the approach of Tropical Storm Andrea impacting the Tampa area.
Adverse weather effects generated by a tropical storm or hurricane can cover an area hundreds of miles wide. Even those recreational boaters and the maritime industry that 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.
Boaters, especially those from Tampa along the Gulf Coast to Yankeetown, are urged to secure their vessels. Those who heed the warnings of the Coast Guard and local law enforcement authorities will keep themselves and first responders out of danger.
Boaters should take necessary precautions to ensure their personal safety due to strong gusty winds associated with the outer weather bands of tropical storms. Heavy seas, significant rain and damaging winds may accompany and present serious dangers to boaters. Rescue and assistance by the Coast Guard and other agencies may be degraded as the storm approaches.
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.
Here are a few tips to help mariners protect themselves, their families and their vessels:
-Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat if you know a storm is approaching.
-Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing your vessel. Marina operators are knowledgeable and can advise you on the best methods for securing your boat.
-Take action now. The effects of a storm can be felt well in advance.
-Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area.
-Do not rush to your boat. Boaters should not place themselves in danger to get to a boat.
-Do not try to reach your boat if it has been forced into the water and is surrounded by debris. Wait until authorities have made safe access available.
-Do not try to board a partially sunken boat.
-Seek salvage assistance from a professional.
-Storms move quickly and are unpredictable.