Tuesday, Aug. 29
The ports in the area have ceased waterside operations after the U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, issued condition Zulu due to the incoming hurricane.
Carlos Buqueras, executive director of SeaPort Manatee, says landside operations are still taking place as of Tuesday at 3:45 p.m.
With the incoming storm and surrounding areas announcing evacuations, Buqueras says the port allowed a fuel ship to remain at the port as long as possible to discharge all the fuel they could. "I think there's a healthy supply of fuel in our tanks," he says.
As of Tuesday, six ships had been rerouted to wait out the storm. Once the coast guard gives the clear, which Buqueras says could be Wednesday evening, those ships will be allowed to continue their route to SeaPort Manatee. The coast guard has to perform a channel survey after the storm to ensure there's no obstructions that will damage the incoming ships.
With the port's berths being above flood levels, Buqueras says any damage the port suffers will be from wind.
During Hurricane Ian, the port suffered some damage to warehouses and buildings though nothing catastrophic, he says. With Hurricane Idalia expected to hit landfall as a Category 3 storm, a notch lower than Ian was, Buqueras is hopeful that any damage suffered will be minimal.
Monday, Aug. 28
Inbound vessel traffic has ceased for all ports in the area, as of 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 28, due to an incoming tropical storm.
The Port of Tampa Bay, SeaPort Manatee and Port St. Pete are operating on port condition Yankee. The condition was placed by the United States Coast Guard for the possibility of gale force winds reaching 34-47 miles per hour within 24 hours.
That means that all inbound vessel transits are prohibited and oceangoing commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons must have already departed the ports and anchorages. Any cargo operations that are not associated with storm preparations are also currently prohibited.
The ports are still open for vehicular traffic at the moment. The next condition, Zulu, will be issued 12 hours out from the arrival of gale force winds. Zulu closes the ports to all vessel traffic.