Texas ports are bracing for impact of the developing tropical storm Bill in the Gulf of Mexico and heavy rain forecast over the next 2-3 days.
The center of Tropical Storm Bill is expected to make landfall in the warning area along the Texas coast later this morning and move inland over south-central Texas this afternoon and tonight local time.
Houston is on the “dirty side” of the storm but currently high rainfall and localized flooding is the main concern. Approximately 6 to 8″ of rain is forecast across area. Wind gusts exceeding 50 knots are expected after 3am through midday today. Conditions are expected to moderate quickly after the storm makes landfall, the US National Hurricane Center said.
Houston Pilots closed the channel for outbound traffic at 1400 hrs June 15th.
“Captains should be reminded that they must mind the mooring lines at all times,” the Houston Port Authority said in an advisory.” The channel levels can rise very swiftly during periods of heavy rain, which could lead to a serious situation for vessels on the channel, “ the advisory added.
U.S. Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston Captain of the Port has set Hurricane Condition X-Ray. COTP recommends that containers be stacked no more than two high due to the anticipation of high wind gusts.
U.S. Coast Guard has set Hurricane Condition Whiskey for the ports of Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Victoria, effective 10:00 a.m. on Monday June 15, 2015.
Galveston-Texas City Pilots and Brazos Pilots stopped operations around dusk on Monday. Offshore lightering operations have ceased until better weather conditions prevail.
Port Freeport was closed for all night time traffic on Monday, with the plan to reopen until 12pm on Tuesday when closing to all traffic is anticipated, Brazos Pilots Association said.
Shell Oil Co, the US arm of Royal Dutch Shell, has removed all non-essential workers from its rigs in the Gulf of Mexico in preparation for the storm.
ExxonMobil, Shell and BP haven’t cut any production because of the storm, Platts reports citing spokespersons of the said companies.
Normal operations should resume on Thursday, according to the Port Authority.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: NOAA