JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Coast Guard is encouraging boaters Tuesday to prepare for severe weather due to a developing tropical depression, which is expected to impact central Florida Thursday.

The National Hurricane Center reports the disturbance is favorable for tropical development, resulting in a minimum of heavy rains and gusty winds. All boaters and beachgoers are strongly encouraged to monitor weather conditions.

“Boaters are always encouraged to pay close attention to the seriousness of the storm and take the necessary safety precautions,” said Lt. Jarrod A. Owens, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. "Please monitor all weather warnings and take the time to ensure your vessel, family and property are properly taken care of before the storm arrives.”

Here are a few tips to help mariners protect themselves, their families and their vessels:

  • Do not go out to sea in a recreational boat if you know a storm is approaching.
  • Contact local marinas to ask for advice about securing your vessel.
  • Marina operators are knowledgeable and can advise you on the best methods to secure your boat.
  • Take action now. The effects of a storm can be felt well in advance, and bridge schedules can and often shift from their normal operating schedule. Check with local authorities before entering any storm-damaged area.
  • When removing your EPIRB from your vessel, ensure it does not inadvertently activate which could signal a false alert. Furthermore, once the severe weather has passed, mariners are reminded to ensure the EPIRB devices are placed back on their vessels prior to the vessel's next use.
  • Do not try to board a partially sunken boat. Seek salvage assistance from a professional. Storms move quickly and are unpredictable.