Ian prompts port, rail closures as it barrels toward the Carolinas

Date: Friday, September 30th, 2022
Source: Supply Chain Dive

Rail and port facilities in the southeast have closed or reduced operations as one of the strongest hurricanes to ever strike the United States makes its way up the coast toward northern Georgia and the Carolinas.

The South Carolina Ports Authority closed all marine terminals Friday in preparation for Hurricane Ian, though noted inland terminals are expected to operate as normal. In North Carolina, the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City will close, but the Charlotte Inland Port will remain open.

Ian was downgraded to tropical storm status Thursday evening before regaining strength, and the southeast coast is bracing for hurricane-force winds and devastating storm surges according to the National Hurricane Center.

Major disruption to South Carolina’s ports would hit as the area grows in importance as a container hub. The ports authority reported a record fiscal year 2022 as more shippers called upon unconventional ports to circumvent West Coast congestion.

Railroads have also adjusted operations along the Southeast coast while simultaneously working to restore service in Florida. CSX terminals will be closed to bulk commodity traffic in Jacksonville, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina. Intermodal terminals remain open, though the railroad noted that “weather conditions are sporadically halting lift operations in Jacksonville.

CSX said that it expects to resume normal operating hours at affected Florida facilities on Saturday, and noted that have successfully cleared tracks, signals and crossings in impacted areas. The railroad had no immediate update on when it would restore service in South Carolina and Georgia.

Norfolk Southern said in a Thursday update that operations between “inland terminals and the southeast ports of Savannah and Charleston are planned to operate as normal.”

Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s west coast Wednesday, with the toll of destruction becoming more clear as rescue efforts progress. President Joe Biden said in remarks Thursday that “we’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting post-storm assessments at Florida’s Jacksonville and Tampa ports. Both ports will reopen following the assessments, though Tampa has “resumed landside operations” according to an update posted Thursday.

“Our current priorities are safety of life, protection of the environment, and a full return to cargo and cruise operations,” the Port of Tampa said in a statement.


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