WGMA Houston Ship Channel


PCT Call Update


Sunday, May 5, 2024


Flood/High Water Situation



The US Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston’s Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) held a Port Coordination Team (PCT) conference call this morning at 0900 hours to look at the situation on the Houston Ship Channel at the intersection with extreme high water and strong currents on the lower San Jacinto River.


The Houston Ship Channel was closed at 10AM on Saturday May 4th, between Lights 126 & 129 (around the Lynchburg Ferry, at the mouth of the San Jacinto River), due to extreme high-water conditions. Please refer to Marine Safety Information Bulletin MSIB 11-24 for complete information on this closure.


Your WGMA Maritime Affairs team participated on the call and has the following report for our membership:


National Weather Service:

·     A disturbance has moved into the area this morning, roughly following the I-10 corridor.

·     There are moderate-strong storms currently in the Houston area.

·     There is a Moderate Risk and a Slight Risk of excessive rainfall today.

·     Most of Southeast TX is under a Marginal Risk of severe weather today. Damaging winds and hail are the primary threats. Brief isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

·     An additional rain amounts of 1 to 3 inches can be expected. Isolated higher amounts of 4 to 8 inches possible, mainly north of I-10.

·     A Flood Watch remains in effect through this evening.

·     Rain and storm chances will gradually taper off this evening.

·     Moderate to major river flooding continues, particularly along the Trinity, San Jacinto and Brazos Rivers.

·     The Sheldon gauge on the San Jacinto peaked Saturday evening at 19.7 feet. With the additional rain today, it is likely it will remain high before gradually dropping.

·     Water coming out of the San Jacinto will be impacted by the rain falling today on Houston, which will cause high water coming down Buffalo Bayou.

·     This will cause a collision of the 2 floods at the mouth of the San Jacinto River, which could cause additional backups along both waterways.

·     Looking ahead, dry conditions with a warming trend can be expected with high temperatures in the 90s after Tuesday. Heat Index values will reach 100-105F this week. Rain/storm chances return to the forecast on Friday.


Vessel Traffic Service Director:

US Coast Guard is asking for any facilities to advise if they are impacted by this event.

This means that any impacts to the supply chain during the duration of the event are requested to be sent to Mr. Tyson Muniz (tyson.m.muniz@uscg.mil). We need to see a solid reduction in current and a steady fall on the San Jacinto River before resuming Brown Water traffic.


Captain of the Port’s comments:

Captain Donohue offered his thanks for all the good discussions this morning. Will get a helicopter up to look over the area before noon and put small boats out to look for ATONs that are off station in the upper HSC. There is a plan to reopen depending upon set conditions and will proceed to implement that plan slowly and with caution.


US Army Corps of Engineers:

They will be putting survey boats in operation, looking for possible shoaling areas.


Houston Pilots:

A plan to safely move traffic through the intersection of the Houston Ship Channel and the San Jacinto River, using tug assistance. 3 test ships will start moving around 10AM this morning, outbound. They are not optimistic about moving loaded wide-body ships through the area until conditions greatly improve. Another 11 vessels waiting for outbound sailing and 22 vessels inbound.


Several oil and/or product terminals reported they are close to reaching containment situations if they don’t get ships into their facilities within 24 hours.


Agents are reminded to maintain close dialogue with area pilot dispatch offices. Agents are also reminded to keep the eNOA/D’s updated for their vessels, and to keep the pilots closely advised about when their ships are ready to transit, whether sailing, shifting or docking.


As these conditions will persist in the area, there will be another PCT conference call held tomorrow, Monday May 6th, at 0900 hours. Your WGMA Maritime Affairs team will participate on tomorrow’s call and report to our membership.