U.S. Shipping Prepares for East Coast "Weather Bomb"


By The Maritime Executive 2018-01-03 19:07:18

A severe storm is about to hit the northeastern United States, and commercial shipping is already feeling its effects. A warning is in effect off the mid-Atlantic with forecasts for waves of up to 25 feet and winds to 70 knots. The weather system's central pressure is expected to drop by more than 24 millibars in a day, likely beginning as it passes off North Carolina and continuing as it moves north to Cape Cod and on to Nova Scotia. 

In Georgia, which rarely receives heavy weather, Governor Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in more than two dozen counties. To the north, Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads has closed the Capes to inbound and outbound vessel traffic in preparation for blizzard conditions. “The impending blizzard will cause a variety of maritime hazards, including strong winds, zero visibility, topside icing and heavy seas,” said Capt. Rick Wester, Sector Hampton Roads Captain of the Port. “Mariners should secure their vessels, stow any loose equipment, monitor updates and most importantly, stay off the water.”

On the Delaware Bay, the Captain of the Port has issued an ice formation warning for the Bay, the Delaware River and the Intracoastal Waterway. The COTP asked recreational boaters to exercise additional care and advised them not to go out alone. 

In addition, as conditions deteriorate, heavy winds, snow and freezing spray could put small craft at risk of sinking at their anchorage or pier due to the weight of icing and snow. The Coast Guard advised boaters to follow recommended guidelines for preparing their vessels for severe winter weather.

Coast Guard units across the Northeast are gearing up as a powerful winter storm with damaging winds, snowfall, and potential for coastal flooding is expected to impact the region on Thursday. The Boston-based 270-foot Coast Guard Cutter Seneca will stage offshore to provide search and rescue coverage if needed, and shore based units are standing ready to deploy. Ice-breaking assets will seek safe haven from the winter storm, but will redeploy once conditions allow.