Tropical Storm Isaias is churning off the Florida coast this morning, August 3, and may strengthen to a hurricane again before it makes landfall tonight.
Yesterday, staff at the Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City, North Carolina began preparing for the storm’s impacts. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) had issued a condition X-RAY for both ports, meaning all oceangoing commercial vessels and barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the ports. Vessels desiring to remain in port were required to submit a mooring plan to the captains of the port (COTP) for approval.
At 8 p.m. EDT yesterday the USCG tightened restrictions for Wilmington, issuing a condition YANKEE because they expect tropical storm force winds to arrive within 24 hours. Under port condition YANKEE, the affected port(s) are closed to inbound vessel traffic greater than 500 gross tons. All vessels greater than 500 gross tons without permission to remain in port should have departed or should be prepared to depart prior to the setting of Port Condition Zulu.
Zulu is set approximately 12 hours in advance of anticipated gale-force winds, which would close the port and all port operations would be suspended.
Yesterday evening, the USCG also set port condition YANKEE for the ports of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. In these cases, all vessels greater than 300 gross tons must depart the port unless the COTP has approved a request to remain in port. Terminals and facilities were required to cease all cargo operations and secure handling of equipment within 12 hours of the announcement. Bulk liquid terminals must ensure all transfer hoses and loading arms are drained, flanged and secured.
Also, vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the COTP to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing. Vessels bound for Savannah and Brunswick ports unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.
As of 8 a.m. EDT today, Isaias was centered about 115 miles south-southeast of Jacksonville, Florida. Maximum sustained winds around the eyewall were measured by Hurricane Hunters to be 70 mph, and tropical storm force winds extended up to 125 miles from the eye of the storm. This puts portions of the northeastern Florida and southern Georgia coasts within range of these winds.
The warm Atlantic waters may propel Isaias back to hurricane strength prior to landfall tonight. That landfall will likely be near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Then, Isaias will move through eastern North Carolina and the Delmarva Peninsula Tuesday, followed by New England Tuesday night and Wednesday.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has posted a hurricane warning from South Santee River, South Carolina (just south of Myrtle Beach) to Surf City, North Carolina (just north of Wilmington). A tropical storm warning runs from Surf City, North Carolina northward to the mouth of the Merrimack River, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Massachusetts as well as Block Island, Rhode Island.
More details are available in the attached video. Look for more updates later on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.