The National Weather Service has issued a small-craft advisory for the weekend, prompting Tampa police to urge boaters to stay on land for Gasparilla.
“The Tampa Police Department is encouraging boaters to watch the invasion from land,” the agency said in a news release on Thursday.
The small-craft advisory will be in effect from 10 p.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Saturday. A gale warning also will be in effect for Gulf waters as sustained northwest winds will whip at up to 35 mph, while gusts could be 45 mph or more, according to Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologists.
“Conditions will be hazardous to small crafts. Inexperienced mariners, especially those operating smaller vessels, should avoid navigating in hazardous conditions,” Tampa police said in the news release. “Recreational boaters who plan to participate in the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion should check www.weather.gov for updates prior to getting underway. Know your limitations. If in doubt, don’t go out!”
Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, which operates the 165-foot-long Jose Gasparilla pirate ship, which will lead Saturday’s “invasion” into Tampa before the parade, said Friday afternoon that it would revise its route because of the weather.
“Due to inclement weather and out of an abundance of caution, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla will revise the sailing route of the Gasparilla Invasion planned for tomorrow, January 29,” the Krewe said in a statement. “Our determined pirates, led by Captain Peter Lackman, will continue their quest to capture the key to the city, invading Tampa by sailing from the Port of Tampa Bay at noon. The Jose Gasparilla will sail up the Ybor Channel, around Harbour Island, and into the Seddon Channel. They’ve set their sights on the Tampa Convention Center, where they’ve commanded Mayor Jane Castor to surrender the key at 1 p.m.
“In the interest of boater safety, we strongly discourage small vessels from participating in this year’s flotilla and recommend guests enjoy the invasion and parade from land. Additionally, anyone considering boating on parade day should monitor weather and small craft advisories and carefully follow any recommendations made by the United States Coast Guard and law enforcement.”
The whipping winds come as a cold front pushes into the Tampa Bay area. While Friday temperatures should reach the high 60s, the front will push rain ahead of it later in the day. There is a 30 percent chance of rain on Friday with chances increasing into the evening.
Saturday will be downright cold and windy. The temperature around parade time in Tampa will be between 45 and 50, Bay News 9 said, and winds could be whipping between 15 and 30 mph. The wind chill will likely be in the 30s during the day and will plunge into the 20s Saturday night.