Coast Guard to Close Mouth of Bay to Vessel Traffic at 6 P.M. Wednesday

The U.S. Coast Guard is closing Virginia’s Capes Charles and Henry, which serve as the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, to all inbound and outbound vessel traffic because of significant ice formation.

USCG Sector Hampton Roads Captain of the Port set “ice condition two” Wednesday afternoon, which means there is “significant formation of ice in navigable waters.”

Ice up to five inches thick has been reported on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and in Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

Coast Guard Cutter Chock, whose home port is in Baltimore, is out on an ice-breaking and relief mission near Tangier Island, Virginia.

With blizzard warnings issued for much of the Lower Bay, the Coast Guard warns the current problems will only get worse:

“The impending blizzard will cause a variety of maritime hazards, including strong winds, zero visibility, topside icing and heavy seas,” said Capt. Rick Wester, Sector Hampton Roads Captain of the Port. “Mariners should secure their vessels, stow any loose equipment, monitor updates and most importantly, stay off the water.”

Boaters should also use extreme caution while underway, and to report any observation of ice accumulation on navigable waters to the Sector Hampton Roads Command Center on marine radio VHF-FM channel 16 or at 757-668- 6635.

The Port will remain open to all vessel traffic and commercial activities without limitations until 6 p.m.