Belle Glade Sun

Locks to close 8 hours before storm makes landfall

LAKE OKEECHOBEE – The National Hurricane Center advising there may be tropical storm warnings this weekend, Florida officials are in emergency mode — hoping for the best, and planning for the worst.

On Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, issued an alert stating: “Notice to Navigation Notice is given that 72 hours prior to a Tropical Storm or Hurricane making local landfall locks will be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. supporting vessel safe harbor passage. Lock operations will stop 8 hours prior to land fall as Railroad and drawbridges will be lowered or rotated and locked into a secure position. It’s important that all vessels are at their intended destination before bridges are secured and passage across the waterway suspended.”

According to USACOE, for lock operator safety, the locks will:

• Stop locking vessels or working outdoors if lightning is observed within five miles of the lock and operations will not resume until lightning has not been seen in the area for 30 minutes.

• Stop locking vessels when winds exceed 35 mph.

After a storm, it could be days or weeks before the waterway is reopened, depending on damage to structures and how quickly debris creating navigation hazards can be removed.

For up-to-date Lock information contact the shift operator 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at:

• St Lucie Lock & Dam 772-287-2665

• Port Mayaca Lock & Dam 561-924-2858

• Moore Haven Lock & Dam 863-946-0414

• Ortona Lock & Dam 863-675-0616

• WP Franklin Lock & Dam 239-694-5451