STORM MAY DELAY CRAB SEASON

November 28, 2001 12:00 am
Crabbers load pots before the storm. ().
Crabbers load pots before the storm. ().

The next in a series of winter storms was expected to hit the South Coast today, bringing with it rain, snow in higher elevations and 70-mph winds at the headlands, weather officials said.

?It?s going to be a wild one,? said Chuck Glaser, a spokesman for the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Medford.

The arrival of today?s storm couldn?t have been worse for crab fishermen, some of whom may be heading out to sea to set their crab pots in anticipation of crab season, which officially begins Saturday. Oregon law allows crabbers to put their pots in the ocean 64 hours before the season opens.

The crews of many commercial fishing vessels took advantage of Monday and Tuesday?s fair weather to ready their gear.

However, word on the docks at the Port of Brookings Harbor Monday had it that crabbers and processors hadn?t yet agreed on a price for the product, which may mean a delay in boats heading out to sea and collecting their bounty.

The National Weather Service posted a high wind warning for Tuesday night through today, with the worst of the storm hit by mid-day, Glaser said.

A red flag with a black square, one of the highest storm warning signals, hung listlessly from a flag pole at the U.S. Coast Guard Chetco River station Tuesday.

?We?re always ready for anything, especially this time of year,? said Coast Guard Executive Officer Mike Lewis. ?The conditions can be sloppy up and down the coast.?

The Coast Guard can restrict the bar, should it become too rough, to recreational vessels, but not commercial vessels, Lewis said. It?s up to each captain to determine whether it?s worth the risk, he said.

The National Weather Service said the wind would be from the south at 45-55 mph along the coast with gusts up to 70 mph at the headlands.

The NWS was predicting up to 1 to 3 inches of rain today and tapering off on Thursday. The highs along the coast would range from 50 to 50 degrees with lows in the mid-40s.

Travelers heading east on Highway 199 today may encounter snow, Glaser said.

The snow level was expected to drop to 2,000 Tuesday night and as low as 1,500 in some valleys, he said.

The snow, however, won?t last long because the snow level is expected to go back up to 6,000 feet late today.

?Any rain on Wednesday will likely wash away the snow,? Glaser said.

The snow level was expected to drop again Thursday to 2,000 as cold air follow today?s cold front, he said. Glaser cautioned that rain on Thursday may become snow at at the higher elevations.

Like the storm last weekend, today?s storm was generated out of the Northern Pacific Ocean, he said.

The NWS is predicting a series of weaker storms to hit the South Coast this weekend and throughout next week, bring periods of showers and wind.