Gale force winds generated by Tropical Storm Erika could force Florida container ports to close, US officials have warned.
Austin Gould, the US Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COPT) for the Port of Miami, on 27 August set port readiness at ‘Whiskey’ – a condition in which gale force winds are expected to arrive within 72 hours – for the Port of Miami, the Miami River, Port Everglades, and Port of Palm Beach along Florida’s East Coast, with possible sustained winds between 34-47 kn.
The USCG stated that all commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 500 gt should plan to leave port. Vessels must immediately contact the COPT for permission to remain in port, the agency noted. It advised that ships bound for South Florida unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall should seek an alternate destination.
Port facilities should review their heavy weather plans and to prepare for the expected conditions, according to the USCG.
If and when port readiness condition ‘Yankee’ is set – where sustained gale force winds are expected within 24 hours – all vessel movements must be approved by the COPT.
Miami, Everglades, and Palm Beach specialise in international container shipping. The Miami River is a key transit point for cargo destined for the Caribbean and ports in South and Central America.