US southeast ports begin reopening tomorrow: Update 2
Adds Tampa port reopening plans, other details.
Houston, 11 September (Argus) — Ports along the US southeast closed this weekend as Hurricane Irma approached the region as a powerful storm.
The Florida ports of Tampa Bay, St Petersburg and Manatee were closed to all inbound and outbound traffic on 9 September, the US Coast Guard said, set to hurricane condition Zulu, which also bans all cargo and bunker handling operations.
Tampa Bay was expected to reopen on at 2pm ET tomorrow, as the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and port personnel were scanning the channel to make sure it is clear. The port received minor damage and flooding from Hurricane Irma, and strong winds continued to be a safety issue for vessel traffic and operations today. Three petroleum vessels are expected to bring fuel into the port when it reopens.
The Coast Guard this weekend also closed the ports of Jacksonville and Fernandina. The ports of Miami and Key West were closed on 8 September.
The port of Miami is planning to reopen tomorrow. The port's terminal operating company, known as POMTOC, and the south Floridacontainer terminal (SFCT), may reopen on 13 September depending on final assessments.
Port Everglades, in Fort Lauderdale, is undergoing damage assessment and will reopen once the Coast Guard grants approval. Fuel deliveries will continue as soon as the petroleum companies at Port Everglades are able to reopen and the roads are safe for truck drivers.
Further up the Atlantic coast the Georgia ports of Savannah and Brunswick were closed to commercial traffic and transfer operations beginning on 9 September. Vessels bound for the ports of Savannah or Brunswick unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall were advised to seek an alternate destination.
In South Carolina, the port of Charleston was closed to commercial traffic yesterday because of the expectation of sustained gale force winds.
The South Carolina Ports Authority ceased all operations in Charleston today at 2pm ET and said normal operations would resume tomorrow.
Irma made landfall in southwestern Florida yesterday and moved up the west coast of the state. It was downgraded to a tropical storm this morning near the Tampa Bay area. It appeared headed to Georgia and Alabama, the National Hurricane Center said.
The agency warned of possible "life-threatening storm surge flooding" along portions of the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Meanwhile, several ports in the Caribbean have reopened after Irma cleared that region, including ports in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.