Florida seaports brace for Idalia’s impact

Florida’s ports and Eastern freight railroads are preparing for Tropical Storm Idalia’s arrival.

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Ports along Florida’s coasts are preparing for Tropical Storm Idalia, which is expected to hit the state as a hurricane late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

The Coast Guard has declared port condition Yankee for the Gulf Coast region, meaning that gale-force winds of 34 to 47 knots are possible within the next 12 hours due to the tropical storm approaching Florida.

Gulf Coast facilities, including SeaPort Manatee and Port Tampa Bay announced Monday morning they are closed to all inbound vessel traffic.

“Port Tampa Bay continues to monitor and prepare for Tropical Storm Idalia,” Port Tampa Bay said in a statement. “Landside operations, including fuel operations, remain open. The port has been in contact with our partner fuel terminal operators and have been assured they are prepared to deliver fuel and support consumers.”

The Coast Guard declared port condition X-ray for the harbor at Jaxport as of noon Monday. The Jacksonville port is located in northeast Florida along the Atlantic Coast. 

Under condition X-ray, sustained gale-force winds associated with tropical cyclone activity are predicted within 48 hours. 

“We anticipate the Coast Guard will set port condition Yankee later in the evening on Monday, followed by port condition Zulu by 5 p.m. Tuesday,” the Jacksonville Port Authority said. “Tenants and drivers should prepare for all Jaxport terminal inbound trucking lanes to close at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Jaxport will fully close to all traffic at 5 p.m. All trucks must depart by 5 p.m.”

CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) is keeping its eye on the storm, according to a posting on the railroad’s website. The company has major rail yards in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, Florida.

“CSX is monitoring Tropical Storm Idalia. Although the path of the storm remains uncertain, CSX is prepared to implement precautionary measures and adjust operations to protect employees, rail traffic and infrastructure,” CSX said. “We will continue to track the storm as it evolves, and will issue further notifications as warranted.”

Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC), which has a rail terminal in Jacksonville, also said it is keeping track of the storm’s approach.

“Norfolk Southern is monitoring Tropical Storm Idalia,” Connor Spielmaker, a spokesman for the railroad, told FreightWaves. “Currently, there are no impacted service areas, and all ports and Norfolk Southern Intermodal facilities are operating as scheduled. We are closely monitoring Idalia and will provide updates as the storm progresses.”

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