Tropical Systems and Hurricanes are unpredictable and subject to rapid changes in intensity and movement. Action must be taken early so as not to create a dangerous situation for life, property and the environment.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Weather Service Hurricane Warning Systems advise that Threatening Winds can to be expected within 72 hours ahead of a storm and Hurricane Force Winds are possible within 48 hours of the storm’s arrival.
Our Hurricane Plan and Policy calls for early action to be taken when threatened by these conditions. The following timelines are minimums and may be advanced if conditions warrant.
- At the 72 hour Hurricane Alert Notice when Panama City or Port St. Joe are in or near the Red Zone Sector:
ALL Ships in the Port Area are hereby given notice to complete or cancel operations and make ready to depart the Port. No boarding of inbound large or deep draft vessels. Boarding of other vessels will be limited, if at all. Conditions and movement of the storm will be continuously monitored.
- No later than 60 hours prior to landfall:
All vessels are to begin evacuating the Port in the order of the largest vessels departing first.
- Before the 48 hour Hurricane Watch Notice:
All vessels are to be out of the Port or have clearance to stay in Port for the duration of the storm from the USCG Captain of the Port in Mobile, Alabama. Pilot Services may not be available beyond this point.
From this point forward conditions will continue to deteriorate with increasing winds and seas. These conditions become more dangerous for us personally, the safety of vessels departing the Port and their ability to evade the storm’s path.
We must have time for securing our pilot vessels and to evacuate the area if necessary. Boatyards and bayous are limited and these places become closed, crowded and full, very early.