The U.S. Class I railroads with operations in the Gulf Coast region are preparing for potential service disruptions when Hurricane Delta makes landfall later this week.
“Precautionary actions are being taken to protect infrastructure and rail equipment is being repositioned away from low-lying areas around New Orleans,” Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) said in a Wednesday operations update. “Norfolk Southern is working with customers located in the forecasted region to identify switching needs and with interchange partners to move certain shipments over alternate interchange gateways. Ongoing updates will be provided as this storm system progresses.”
Hurricane Delta could potentially reach as high as a Category 3 status when it makes landfall on U.S. soil late Thursday. The hurricane already landed in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula early Wednesday as a Category 2 storm with winds of 100 mph, FreightWaves reported. The storm will likely weaken as it moves across Mexico, but it could gather strength when it passes over the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico.
Delta is the 25th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic season and the ninth hurricane, according to the FreightWaves report. The railroads also prepared their networks before Hurricanes Laura and Sally hit in August and September.
WIth the hurricane approaching, the New Orleans Flood Protection Authority plans to start closing floodgates in and around New Orleans on Thursday, according to Norfolk Southern (NS). As a result, shipments could be impacted, but NS said it didn’t know the duration of the impact.
Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) and Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) also said in service advisories they are watching Hurricane Delta’s progress in the Gulf Coast. Union Pacific said in a Tuesday service advisory that closed floodgates in New Orleans would effectively prevent interchange with Eastern rail carriers.
FreightWaves Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist Nick Austin contributed to this report.