BALTIMORE (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard is restricting traffic on the upper Chesapeake Bay and surrounding areas ahead of gale force winds expected with Hurricane Irene.

The ports were open Thursday to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue while port condition Whiskey remains in effect, but pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor.

If port readiness condition Yankee is set, meaning hurricane force winds are expected within 24 hours, vessel movement will be restricted and all movements must be approved by the captain of the port.

With the amount of rain expected, Maryland Natural Resources Police spokesman Sgt. Art Windemuth says officials are concerned about rivers and streams flooding. He says boaters should secure their vessels and stay off waterways for three to five days after the storm.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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