Wednesday, January 16

Coast Guard Closes Mouth of Chesapeake Bay Because of Ice, Blizzard

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The Coast Guard just closed the entrance to Chesapeake Bay to all inbound and outbound traffic because of hazardous ice formations and the impending blizzard. It officially closed Cape Charles and Cape Henry, which function as the entrance to the bay.

The Captain of the Port set “ice condition two,” meaning there is significant ice in navigable waters. Blizzard warnings were issued for much of the Lower Bay, so the situation will probably 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, the Captain of the Port for Sector Hampton Roads.

Read more about this latest development here, plus an earlier story about icing in the Bay and its tributaries, below:

The Coast Guard has set ice condition three, which means conditions are favorable for ice forming in navigable waters, for the Chesapeake and its tributaries. The cold weather has created early ice formations on the Chesapeake, the Delaware Canal, the upper Chesapeake Bay and the upper Potomac River. (The picture above shows the Coast Guard Cutter Capstan from Philadelphia breaking ice on the Chesapeake.)

The Coast Guard also urged mariners to be aware of seasonal ice procedures:

– After the Coast Guard has issued navigation restrictions (condition three, for example), all vessels must have the proper hull shape and enough horsepower to maneuver unassisted through the ice without needing to stop or back off and ram the ice.

– Mariners need to check their moorings frequently to make the boat is secured.

– Vessels at anchor should maintain a proper bridge watch as all times.

– Mariners need to check their vessels’ sea chests regularly to prevent an ice buildup.

For more information about ice conditions and other issues, the Coast Guard broadcasts notices to mariners five times a day on VHF Channel 22A, at 3 a.m., 7:05 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 4 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. local time. Read more:



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