Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Storms Close 9 Pacific Northwest Ports

By Mark Edward Nero

On Dec. 11, two US Coast Guard captains of the port temporarily closed nine maritime entrances in the Pacific Northwest – seven in Oregon, two in Washington – due to severe sea conditions and large amounts of debris in the water caused by a string of storms.

The entrances are expected to remain closed during the duration of the inclement weather, which began December 7 and includes heavy rain and snow.

In Washington, the port of Grays Harbor in Westport; and Quillayute River in LaPush were closed; in Oregon, the ports of Chetco River in Brookings; Coos Bay; Umpqua River in Winchester Bay; Siuslaw River in Florence; Yaquina Bay in Newport; Depoe Bay; Tillamook Bay in Girabaldi were all closed.

The Columbia River was also closed to all maritime traffic.

The action was taken after several storms carrying strong winds and heavy rainfall crossed the Pacific Northwest last week and caused flooding and landslides in parts of Oregon and Washington. Flood waters and landslides caused large amounts of debris to flow in the river systems causing potential problems with maritime traffic.

“My job as a captain of the port is to ensure safety throughout the maritime infrastructure and part of that is to sometimes close the lanes of traffic that mariners use,” said Capt. Dan Travers, commander Sector Columbia River and captain of the port for all ports in Oregon and southwest Washington. “The storms that we all experienced over the last several days have made it dangerous for mariners to transit in and out of our many rivers due to severe sea conditions and debris.”

As of Dec. 14, the maritime entrances were still closed to all recreational and uninspected passenger vessels, according to the Portland branch of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.