Ports Open, Vessel Operations Resume as Hurricane Nate Heads North

After making landfall in Louisiana as a category 1 hurricane, Nate weakened to a tropical storm shortly after, resulting in minimal structural damage and allowing U.S. Gulf Coast ports to reopen over the weekend.

Source: www.americanshipper.com

Vessel traffic has resumed along the U.S. Gulf Coast after Hurricane Nate made landfall in Mississippi as a category 1 hurricane over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Sunday.

Hurricane Nate weakened to a tropical depression shortly after, but flooding and storm surges plagued the Gulf Coast over the weekend. The Coast Guard has warned vessel operators that hazards such as shoaling and storm debris may exist and aids to navigation may be damaged or missing as a result.

Operations at the Port of New Orleans remained unaffected by Hurricane Nate, according to the port’s website. The mouth of the Mississippi River at Southwest past was reopened on Sunday without restrictions and port docks and gates are active with cargo operations, the port stated.

The Alabama State Port Authority said in a tweet on Monday that, “the USCG Captain of the Port just opened the Port of Mobile ship channel with restrictions. Traffic is limited to 32-ft. draft vessels and daylight transit only.” The port allowed limited vessel operations on Friday and was closed on Saturday due to the storm.

As of Monday, the Port of Panama City is open with normal operations while the ports of Mobile and Pascagoula are open with restrictions including daylight transit only with a max depth of 32 feet. The Port of Pensacola remains closed due to post storm port condition Zulu, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. It will reopen once the U.S. Coast Guard finishes checking ship channels for obstructions.

The Port of Mobile, pictured above, is open with restrictions after Hurricane Nate.

On Monday the Port of Gulfport was under port condition Zulu, with boatloads of bananas and pineapples idling in the Gulf of Mexico as Dole and Chiquita awaited clearance to use the Gulfport Ship Channel in the Mississippi Sound, the Gulfport Sun Herald reported.

Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the state Port of Gulfport, said damage at the port was limited to debris on the West Pier and minor damage to the roof of a transit shed on the East Pier that is rented by McDermott International, reported the Gulfport Sun Herald.

However, on Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard has opened all gates and terminals at Gulfport, with restrictions. Vessel traffic is limited to daylights transits at a depth of 30 feet.

Major highways and trucking routes have been cleared of debris and floodwaters have receded. Little to no damage was done to structures in coastal Mississippi, reports stated.

On Friday, before the storm hit, Union Pacific (UP) railroad announced it had activated its hurricane response plan – strategically staging resources such as ballast, pumps, locomotives, generators and work crews throughout the affected region – and was working with the eastern carriers to reroute interchange traffic to Memphis. Approximately 1,700 rail cars in the Avondale and Westwego yards were moved to higher ground while interchanging traffic with area short line railroads including New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway (NOGC) and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) were halted.

Kansas City Southern (KCS) railroad embargoed all traffic interchanging in New Orleans, LA, while Norfolk Southern (NS) repositioned rail equipment away from flood zones. Embargoes for New Orleans rail traffic was issued while traffic enroute to New Orleans was held at “various yards throughout the Norfolk Southern system in an effort to alleviate congestion,” the rail line said.

By Monday, all rail operations returned to normal due to the minimal damage sustained from the storm.

Hurricane Nate shut down about 90% of Gulf of Mexico oil production, however, and energy companies also “shut in” nearly 78 percent of natural gas production as a result of the storm, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Damage to offshore platforms and Gulf Coast refineries appears “minimal,” and production at offshore platforms could soon resume, however.

Tropical Storm Nate is currently expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the Deep South, eastern Tennessee Valley and the southern Appalachians through Monday. The Ohio Valley, central Appalachians and Northeast could also get heavy rain before the storm exits Maine on Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.