Gulf ports brace for Tropical Storm Gordon; Terminals in Mobile & New Orleans Close early

Date: Tuesday, September 4th, 2018
Source: American Shipper

The U.S. Gulf Coast ports of Mobile and New Orleans are hunkering down as Tropical Storm Gordon makes its approach.
As of 10 a.m. CDT Tuesday, the storm was about 145 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, moving northwest at 15 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The storm’s outer rain bands were producing squally weather along the coast of the western Florida panhandle and it’s expected to make landfall Tuesday night as a hurricane.

“On the forecast track, the center of Gordon will move across the northern Gulf of Mexico today and will approach the north-central Gulf Coast within the hurricane warning area late this afternoon or evening and move inland over the lower Mississippi Valley tonight and early Wednesday,” the NHC said. “Some strengthening is expected today, and Gordon is forecast to be a hurricane when it makes landfall along the north-central Gulf Coast.”

The Alabama State Port Authority issued a notice at 9 a.m. CDT Tuesday saying it had nearly completed terminal and facility preparations in advance of the tropical storm.

“High winds and storm surge could impact equipment and operations if steps are not taken,” said Jimmy Lyons, the port’s director and chief executive officer. “Our personnel have been busy this morning tying down cranes and moving equipment either to higher ground or under cover.” The port authority announced it would release all nonessential personnel at noon CDT Tuesday. “The port will reopen to operations as soon as the storm passes and preliminary assessments for any damage are completed,” Lyons said. “The U.S. Coast Guard will reopen the port to, with or without restrictions, to vessel traffic once channel surveys are completed and aids to navigation are inspected.”

About 130 miles south-southwest, the Port of New Orleans issued an update at 10:30 a.m. CDT, saying it will close for all non-essential personnel at 2 p.m. CDT Tuesday. The Associated Branch Pilots, the pilots who guide ships through the mouth of the Mississippi River at Southwest Pass, ceased operations, closing the pass to all inbound and outbound traffic until conditions allow. Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock, which will remain closed to navigation until the Canal level falls.

Gate operations for terminal operator Empire Stevedoring closed at 11 a.m. CDT Tuesday, and gate operations for terminal operators New Orleans Terminal and Ports America closed at noon CDT. Gate operations are expected to reopen for normal business hours Wednesday. “If the situation changes, we will update accordingly,” the port said.

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