Heavy Fog in Houston Ship Channel Stops Traffic

Heavy fog brings ship traffic to a halt in the Houston Ship Channel

HOUSTON – Heavy fog over the past few days has caused a delay in the ship traffic moving through the Houston Ship Channel. The Coast Guard does not close the ship channel due to fog, the Houston and Texas City Pilots Associations do not operate because the conditions make the transits too dangerous to move the deep drafted vessels.

So far, this has caused a back up of 41 ships trying to get into the channel and 18 trying to get out. Weather conditions during this time of year often cause heavy fog due to the cold air coming down from the north hitting the warm currents from the Gulf of Mexico. All deep draft vessels are required by law to have a pilot on board experienced in the area they are transiting. Pilots are trained professionals familiar with the underwater terrain in their area of responsibility. They guide ships into difficult areas where the channel is narrow or where sandbars build up just under the surface. The low visibility caused by the fog can make it more difficult, and therefore more dangerous, to bring ships into those channels.

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