With Storm Dorian Nearing, USCG Issues Warning for Puerto Rico

Dorian, GOES infrared imaging, 2330 hours Z August 25 (NOAA)

By The Maritime Executive 08-26-2019 04:46:26

Early Monday, the captain of the port for Sector San Juan issued a warning to shipping about the approach of Tropical Storm Dorian, which is expected to arrive in the area within 48 hours. 

The COTP set Port Condition X-Ray for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, meaning that while the ports remain open, the maritime community is advised to remain vigilant and take appropriate precautions as the storm approaches. All ocean-going vessels over 500 GT are expected to make plans to depart the port before or at the time that the USCG sets Port Condition Yankee, which indicates that a storm is expected within 24 hours. Vessels bound to arrive in this timeframe are advised to divert to another destination. 

The COTP cautioned that there are no safe havens in the ports affected by the warning, and the ports will be safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. Vessels that wish to stay are advised to contact the COTP and submit a safe mooring plan to obtain an exception. 

As Tropical Storm Dorian makes its way westward across the Caribbean, it may strengthen to a hurricane, according to the NOAA National Hurricane Center. A hurricane watch is already in effect for St. Lucia, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for Dominica, Grenada, Saba and St. Eustatius. It is expected to drop as much as eight inches of rain over the Windward Islands, with some isolated areas potentially seeing even more. 

While it is still several days out, the forecast indicates that the eye of the storm may pass to the west of Puerto Rico over Wednesday night, moving on to make landfall in the Dominican Republic on Thursday morning. Its forecast intensity contains uncertainties, but as of Monday, NOAA expects that it will reach 65 knots - a Force 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale - by Wednesday at 0000 Zulu. 

With Hurricane Maria in recent memory, residents of Puerto Rico have been lining up at retailers to stock up on food, bottled water and other essentials in preparation for the storm.