Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Storm Brewin'

East coast boaters strongly urged to prepare now for Hurricane Irene as earthquake rocks the shoreline

National Hurricane Center's track for Irene as of 2 pm EDT Tuesday 8/23/2011

A storm is brewing in the Atlantic. As Hurricane Irene approached the Bahamas today, apparently en route to North Carolina and up the east coast of the United States, she continued to gain strength. Believe it or not, a hurricane has not made landfall in the United States since Hurricane Ike three years ago, and that was in the Gulf of Mexico. It's been even longer since we saw one hit the eastern seaboard. Where is Irene going to land? What can boaters in the northeast do to get ready in case the storm stays on its current course and brings 100+ mph winds to your marina?

OBX evacuations and regional warnings
There is already a mandatory evacuation order for visitors to North Carolina's Ocracoke Island, a popular destination for boaters. The Maryland Dept of Natural Resources issued a warning just today that suggests boaters make plans to safe-guard their vessels from Hurricane Irene. Other states, from Virginia up through Massachussets are advising boaters to prepare for the hurricane. And although Irene is aiming north of the state, Florida Coast Guard officials have asked boaters to stay off the water.

Suggestions for boaters
Maryland, one of the many states in the storm's projected path, offers the following advice to boat owners, courtesy of the Maryland Natural Resources Police:

When deciding on storm preparation plans, mariners need to consider size, type of vessel, and location. Current locations may not offer protection from high winds or tides. Boaters should consider the following when making arrangement for their vessels.
1. Removing valuable equipment from your vessel to protect it from damage.

2. Consider removing your vessel from the water to reduce damage from storm surge. Vessels on land should be properly stored or tied down to prevent being damage by winds. Small open vessel can be filled with water to lessen the effect of the wind.

3. Vessels that remain in the water should be moored in safe areas or berths. Lines should be doubled and high on pilings. Remember storm surges can cause tides over the pilings. Install fenders to protect vessel from pilings, piers or other vessels.

4. Ensure bilge pumps work properly and batteries that run them fully charged. Seal all openings to make the vessel watertight.

5. Collect all documents, including insurance policies. Take photographs of vessel and equipment for insurance.

6. Do not stay aboard vessels during storms. Safe guard human life.
Hurricane preparation resources
For more tips for the pending hurricane, check out the Hurricane Resources for Boaters at FirstBoat.com.

Earthquakes, too?
As we write this on Tuesday, there are reports of a rare earthquake on the east coast of the US - centered in Virginia, and felt as far north as New England, as well as down in the Carolinas. There was also news of a large earthquake in Colorado Monday night/Tuesday morning - the largest since the 1960's in that area. Surely these are unrelated, and earthquakes are still unpredictable, but you can prepare your boat for the effects of a hurricane by following many of the same tips we posted above.

Good luck and double-tight lines!

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Following is an update 8/26/2011 11:15 AM EDT

Hurricane Irene is now a category 2 storm, but still quite severe and very large. For the very latest and most accurate updates on Hurricane Irene, visit the NOAA's National Hurricane Center here; and you can also find that and similar links on the FirstBoat hurricane resource page.

Below is the latest (11 am) projection of the storm from the NOAA...

Source: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/index.shtml?#IRENE