[Update 10/28. Please see our latest coverage: Northeast Braces for Monster Storm]
Seaports in the projected path of Hurricane Sandy were battening down the hatches Friday in anticipation of the storm’s impact whenever it hits the Northeast coast on Monday or Tuesday.
Where the storm may hit along the East Coast was not yet clear, but projections put the impact anywhere from North Carolina to New England, with the most likely target being New York and New Jersey.
Forecasters said the storm is likely to hit on Monday afternoon, just when its impact on the coast will be magnified by the high tides drawn by the full moon.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city activated its coastal storm plan on Thursday morning and that it had already opened its Office of Emergency Management situation room.
Terminals in the Port of New York and New Jersey were busy making contingency plans and securing their equipment.
“We’re taking this storm very seriously,” said Jim Devine, president and CEO of Global Terminals, which includes Global Terminal in Jersey City and New York Container Terminal on Staten Island.
He said crews at NYCT were welding blocks onto the crane rails to prevent the storm’s high winds from moving them. They were also securing containers around the terminal’s modular buildings to create wind barriers that would protect them from being lifted off their foundations.
Crews at both terminals were lowering the stacks of containers down to two-high to keep them from being blown over. Global Terminal was locking down the rubber-tire gantry cranes.
Devine said he expected the storm to hit late Monday. “It will be an open question as to whether we will come into work on Tuesday. If we really get hit, we’ll just close the facilities.”
Across Kill van Kull in New Jersey, the Port Newark Container Terminal said it plans to begin normal operations on Monday morning, but that if weather projections hold up, it expects delays in operations beginning on Monday afternoon and through Tuesday.
PNCT urged shippers to plan on receiving and delivering cargo as early as possible on Monday. It is already taking necessary precautionary steps to secure all cargo and equipment, including cranes, containers, equipment and gensets.
It said it was taking these precautions to prevent any injury or damage and to enable it to quickly resume normal operations as soon as the storm subsides.
In Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority was taking similar precautions at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal.
“Every time we expect any kind of high winds, we make sure everyone’s got the cranes pinned down with a hurricane tie-down, and we knock any containers down from three- or four-high stacks, said Jim Walsh, PRPA’s director of operations. “We’ll secure any loose debris from the terminals and make sure all the building doors are closed.
The Port of Baltimore said it was advising its tenants to move cargo away from low-lying areas on public marine terminals that are prone to flooding.
“We of course are monitoring the storm very closely,” said Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration. “As of now, we have no changes to our cargo vessel schedules over the weekend.”