Frigid Conditions Slowing Shipping Industry

For example, he told us the docks over in Superior, at Allouez, are run by BNSF. They have 3 miles of conveyer belts that move the pellets, according to Sharrow, and that is 3 miles of area that could encounter a problem. Also, pellets can get stuck in the ore cars, or the cars can break down themselves. And on the boats themselves, the hatches can ice over, and there can be 20-30 hatches.

Some of that ice was visible on the front of the Thunder Bay, as she sailed under the lift bridge around 11:30am on Tuesday.  Despite the frigid conditions, folks like Nick Cooley and Emily Meyer rushed out to see her.

"It was the first time I've seen it, so it was very cool," Meyer told us. Cooley added, "Well, I've seen them come in during the summer. It was neat covered in ice from the fog on the lake. Amazing to see it draped off the anchor."

The Thunder Bay was set to deliver salt at Hallett Dock, and then head to Two Harbors to pick up pellets, according to Sharrow. 

There are around 1 to 1.5 million tons of pellets scheduled to be loaded yet this season. But with the delays, they might not all make it to the steel mills. The mills are stockpiling right now, in anticipation of the closure of the Soo Locks on January 15th.

The Lake Carriers Association said they are facing challenging conditions throughout the system. Glen Neksavil sent a statement: "The U.S. Coast Guard is doing its best, but we need more icebreakers.  This is why Lake Carriers' Association continues to work to h....

read more from