According to an official announcement by the ACP, precipitation registered in the Panama Canal watershed during December 2018 was approximately 90% below the historical average, causing water levels in Gatun and Madden Lakes to drop below the expected levels for this time of the year.

As a result, the Panama Canal has deemed it necessary to implement water conservation measures to delay implementation of seasonal draft adjustments and to minimize the adverse effect that these may have on our customers. Despite these efforts, the weather forecast for the upcoming weeks indicates that the first seasonal draft of 14.94 meters (49.0 feet) TFW is required effective February 11, 2019, for vessels transiting the Neopanamax locks,

...the statement reads.

As explained, vessels which arrive with drafts over 14.94 meters (49.0 feet) TFW may be allowed to transit past this date depending on the actual level of Gatun Lake at the time of transit. Otherwise, they will be required to trim or offload cargo to transit, the Authority explained.

The maximum authorized transit draft is the deepest point of immersion in TFW permitted for a vessel in Gatun Lake. Water density of Gatun Lake is 0.9954 at 29.4°C (85°F).

During the dry season, draft adjustments for the Neopanamax locks will be announced in 30- centimeter (one foot) decrements at a time, generally with at least four weeks advanced notice.