Low rainfall registered in the Panama Canal watershed during December 2018, around 90% below the historical average has caused water levels in Gatun and Madden Lakes to drop below the expected levels for this time of the year and the weather forecast, have forced the Panama Canal to cut the maximum draught to 14.94 metres (49 feet) TFW effective 11 February 2019 for vessels transiting the new locks.
The authority said that vessels arriving with draughts over 14.94 metres (49.0 feet) TFW may be allowed to transit past this date depending on the actual level of Gatun Lake at the time of transit. Otherwise, they will be required to trim or off-load cargo to transit.
The neo-panamax locks are designed at capacity to allow vessels with a draught of 15.2 metres (50 feet) to transit.
The last maximum restriction in Gatun Lake was implemented 26 June 2018 at 15.24 metres (50 feet).
The ACP said it would announce draught adjustments for the neo-panamax locks in 30-centimetre decreases at a time during the dry season, with at least a-four week-notice in advance.