Despite numerous water conservation measures implemented throughout 2015, the ‘El Nino’ phenomenon brought an unusually dry rainy season to the Canal watershed, impeding Gatun and Alajuela Lakes from reaching their optimum levels prior to the beginning of the 2016 dry season period.

Panama Canal: Possible draft restrictions due to ‘El Nino’ phenomenon

The 2015 Canal Watershed Runoff recorded the second worst in a history of 103 years of systematic hydrological information. Rainfall during 2015 was 36% below average and during the last 29 months, 26 of those recorded precipitations below normal. Gatun Lake’s level is currently at 81.75 feet, the lowest on record for this time of the year.

Based on weather forecasts and water consumption estimates for the upcoming months, the Panama Canal is anticipating the possibility that some time during April 2016 draft restrictions may be imposed to transiting vessels.

Source: Panama Canal Authority Advisory to Shipping