Panama Canal Authority advises that El Nino could force draft restrictions

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has given early notice of possible draft restrictions on vessels passing through as it anticipates potential negative El Nino effects.

In a shipping advisory Canal officials emphasised that no restrictions are yet in play.

If they are deemed necessary, the shipping community will be informed by the ACP in sufficient time, around five weeks, to allow vessels being loaded to comply.

El Nino is a weather phenomenon characterised by above-average Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions that change the places where storms go.

In the Panama Canal it is associated with less rainfall and a drop in the water levels of Gatun and Madden artificial lakes, which affect Canal operations.

Scientists say ocean conditions in the Pacific are indicative of a potent El Niño event later this year.

In 1998, El Nino caused serious reductions of rainfall, lowering the Canal watershed and forcing Canal authorities to issue draft restrictions.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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