Drought leads the Panama Canal to impose limits on the size of cargoes
The Panama Canal will temporarily limit the cargo size of ships using the waterway due to a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, authorities said Friday.
The Panama Canal
Authority said the maximum ship draft will be cut to 11.89 meters from Sept. 8, affecting 18.5 percent of vessels that normally transit the link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
A ship’s draft is its depth in the water, and changes as the vessel becomes heavier or lighter.
The canal authority said further restrictions could be imposed on September 16 if weather condi- tions do not change. The maximum draft of vessels would be cut to 11.73 meters.
Canal administrator Jorge Quijano said the month of June and the first half of July were the driest period in 102 years.
As a result, water levels in the lakes that feed the canal have dropped. The canal’s locks can usually accommodate ships with a draft of up to 12 meters.
A cargo ship’s draft marks show as it navigates the Panama Canal waters in Gamboa, Panama, Saturday, Aug. 8.