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The Panama Canal is bouncing back after a rough year. Water levels are recovering thanks to recent rainfall, allowing the canal authority to increase traffic and cargo capacity.

Here is a breakdown:

  • More ships, more cargo: Starting in August, the canal will accommodate nine giant neo-Panamax ships daily (up from the current eight) and nineteen slightly smaller super-Panamax ships (up from eighteen). This brings the total daily capacity to 35 ships, compared to just 24 in May.
  • Drought woes over: This increase follows a rough period caused by a drought in mid-2023. Low water levels in Gatun Lake, which supplies the canal’s locks, forced restrictions. At its worst, the canal limited daily traffic to only 18 ships.
  • Rainy days bring relief: Thankfully, the drought is over. Rainfall has refilled Gatun Lake to its normal July depth of around 83 feet. This improvement has enticed shipping companies to resume using the canal.


  • Deeper pockets for cargo: The canal authority has also relaxed depth restrictions for neo-Panamax ships, allowing them to carry more cargo by permitting a draft of up to 48 feet (previously limited to 45 feet during the drought).

Source: JOC