A Tale of Two Decembers: Milder Weather in 2014 Allows U.S.-Flag Cargo Movement to Surge at End of Year
CLEVELAND — With the vast ice fields of December 2013 a distant but still troubling memory, U.S.- flag cargo movement on the Great Lakes this past December rebounded significantly. Shipments totaled 9.6 million tons, an increase of nearly 35 percent compared to a year ago. Every commodity – iron ore, coal, limestone, cement, salt, sand and grain, registered increases ranging from 10 to 209 percent.
“The increases recorded this past December dramatically illustrate just how badly the early onset of ice in December 2013 slowed Great Lakes shipping,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association. “This is why we have begun our effort to build another heavy icebreaker to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard’s MACKINAW. It would be foolhardy to imagine we won’t face daunting ice fields again. In fact, shipping has slowed considerably in January as a result of thick ice in Whitefish Bay, the upper St. Marys River, and more recently, the St. Clair River.”