Winter Storm Riley to Bring Dangerous Wind, Coastal Flooding

gale warning flag.jpg

The U.S. Coast Guard MidAtlantic is warning boaters in the region to "use extreme caution" as the major storm known as Winter Storm Riley moves through the region.

The NOAA Weather Service forecast predicts this storm could bring winds over 65 miles per hour, and in certain offshore areas, seas over 30 feet.

The National Weather Service has issued High Wind Warnings for a lot of the Chesapeake Bay, in effect through Saturday morning, as well as Coastal Flood Advisories through Sunday.

The City of Annapolis is offering free mooring balls from now until 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon to protect public safety. The Harbormaster's Office says there are 76 transient mooring balls available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We hope that this will prevent vessels from dragging anchor and causing injury or property damage,” said City Harbormaster Beth Bellis.

Boaters should contact the Harbormaster's office after selecting a mooring to ensure that the chosen mooring is a transient mooring and not an annual mooring. Boaters should use VHF 17 or call 410-263-7973.

The most dangerous conditions are forecast to begin by 6am Friday morning, with gusty winds continuing throughout the weekend, and Maryland Emergency Management Agency wants people to be on guard.

“I urge all Marylanders to take this severe weather very seriously,” says Governor Larry Hogan. “These wind speeds have the potential of causing power outages and creating hazardous conditions for travel and being outdoors starting Friday morning."

The Coast Guard urges boaters to stay off the water in a storm like this one:

“Our primary concern is ensuring the safety of mariners,” said Lt. Cmdr. Wes Geyer, command center chief, 5th Coast Guard District. “We encourage all mariners to keep an eye on the weather and avoid putting themselves or their loved ones at risk as the storm passes off the coast.”

Here are the Coast Guard's tips for boaters in a severe storm like the one that is predicted: 

•Stay up to date on the weather as conditions can change suddenly and with little warning.
•Secure electronic position indicating radio beacons. If unsecured, an EPIRB can break free from a boat and trigger an emergency signal to the Coast Guard.
•Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat when a storm is approaching.
•Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing a vessel. 
•Ensure boating gear is properly stowed or tied down to avoid causing unnecessary searches by the Coast Guard and other first responders. Life jackets, life rafts and small non-powered vessels are some examples of boating equipment often found adrift following severe weather.

Megan Viviano