U.S. Coast Guard officials are urging anyone living on or near the water to take extra precautions in preparation for a winter storm expected to hit the Bay Area tonight.
The National Weather Service is forecasting significant rain, thunderstorms, high surf, wind and associated hazards to the Bay Area as winds reach speeds of 50 miles per hour along the coast through Thursday evening.
Station Golden Gate Lt. Luciana Ganley said the Coast Guard has been working over the past few days to educate the public and make them aware of the gravity of the expected storm.
“We’re trying to let them know if there’s any possible way to get their boats to higher ground, then they should do that,” Ganley said.
Coast Guard officials said all marinas, vessel owners and operators and the public who live along the water should prepare for the storm by checking the status of moorings and anchoring arrangements.
Vessels that aren’t properly secured during a storm can break free from their moorings and become possible safety hazards to other mariners or pose environmental risks as any fluids or chemicals aboard spill into the water, Coast Guard officials said.
Ganley said Coast Guard “surfmen,” who are specially trained for heavy weather conditions, including high seas and surf, are at Station Golden Gate to conduct training and assess the situation as it develops.
The Coast Guard is preparing to respond to calls for stranded boaters, swimmers or surfers who didn’t heed the warnings to stay inside during the storm, Ganley said.
“During big weather events we often receive reports of adrift kayaks, dinghies and other vessels. We treat each as a possible distress case and launch our crews to investigate,” Coast Guard Sector San Francisco commander Capt. Greg Stump said.
“Exercising an ounce of prevention prior to a storm can potentially mitigate loss of property, prevent marine pollution and keep rescue crews focused on people truly in distress and needing assistance,” Stump said.
The Coast Guard recommends that the public keep advised of the storm system through the National Weather Service online at http://www.weather.gov/sanfrancisco and to monitor channel 16 VHF-FM for the most current safety advisories.
Erin Baldassari, Bay City News