The US Coast Guard (USCG) has set conditions X-Ray for ports in Georgia and South Carolina in preparation for Hurricane Michael, which is expected to make landfall by Wednesday afternoon US time.
The condition means that gale force winds are expected within 48 hours but that the ports can remain open to commercial traffic.
However, it also means vessels will be unable to declare their intentions to depart on a voyage to the USCG no more than 12 hours before the gale force winds are expected to arrive.
The Port of Penascola in Florida, where Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall, has been temporarily closed under condition Zulu as of 1200 local time on October 9.
Port is at condition ZULU as of 1200 today. All vessel and cargo ops secured. All emergency vessel issues should contact the USCG Sector Mobile. Port will not reopen until channel surveyed by Corps of Eng. and Port auth to reopen. Will update as conditions change.
— Port Pensacola (@portofpensacola) October 9, 2018
The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Hurricane Michael to category 4 and described it as “extremely dangerous” and “life threatening”.
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Update 4 am CDT Extremely dangerous category 4 Hurricane #Michael nearing the coast of the Florida panhandle. This is a life-threatening event for the northeastern portion of the Gulf Coast. Hourly updates will be provided at https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/SWmdKROpYU
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) October 10, 2018
In an advisory release, the USCG said: “Sustained winds between 39 and 54 mph are possible within 48 hours.
“Mariners are reminded there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum.
“All ocean-going commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port.
Credit: National Hurricane Center
“Vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the respective COTP to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing.
“Vessels bound for ports in Georgia or South Carolina unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.”
Hurricane Michael will be the second hurricane in two months to significantly affect ports on the US’ eastern seaboard.