PORTSMOUTH, Va. -
The Coast Guard has closed north and south access channels leading to the Port of Baltimore. That means ships that are not already in the channels will not be permitted to transit in.
Any ships currently in the channels will need to anchor until the end of the storm.
The Coast Guard has set port conditions to Zulu for the coastal waters of Maryland's eastern shore and Virginia Saturday as Hurricane Sandy approaches.
Condition Zulu means gale force winds are possible within 12 hours. As a result of this, the captain of the port is establishing a temporary safety zone, closing the eastern shores of Virginia and Maryland from Cape Charles Light, Va. to the Maryland and Delaware border and out 12 nautical miles.
The safety zone will be in effect until severe weather has subsided.
Port Condition X-Ray remains in effect for all other waters within the Hampton Roads Zone including the ports of Hampton Roads and the Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Facility operators and agents should contact Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads at 757-638-6641 to request permission for vessels to enter the port.
It is primarily the facility operator's decision to allow vessels to remain moored during the passing of the hurricane, the Coast Guard said. Facilities that do not allow vessels to remain moored must give sufficient notice to allow vessels time to move to a safe mooring, hurricane anchorage or to depart to sea.
Facilities and vessels should communicate with each other about plans. Facility operators should continue making preparations to ensure all loose cargo, cargo equipment and debris are safely secured. All vessel moorings should be reinforced.
The Coast Guard warns that anchored vessels should prepare for severe winds. Additional anchors should be made ready to let go, and preparations should be made to have a continuous anchor watch.
Boaters are also advised to monitor VHF-FM channel 16.
For more information, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's website at http://www.ready.gov/ .
Text WMAR to 46988 to download our weather apps that will help you during the storm.