Flash Flood impacts on Railroad Infrastructure

Uploaded Image: /uploads/blog-photos/RE-JULY23-Rail-Washout-1200w.jpgThe Flash Floods of 2023

In two days early last week, more rain fell on parts of southeastern New York, Vermont, and southwestern New Hampshire than the average rainfall for an entire summer due to an “atmospheric river” of excessive tropical moisture. The flooding in Montpelier, VT, where the city was underwater, was the worst since 1927.

More heavy flash flooding with road and bridge washouts and mud slides occurred this past weekend and again yesterday across the Northeast.

Looking at some of the pictures of railroad track damage reminds me of the rope-bridge scene from Indiana Jones Temple of Doom (filmed in Sri Lanka) where Harrison Ford is crossing above a deep gorge.

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Natural disasters are tragic and humbling experiences and our hearts go out to everyone that’s been impacted by the floods.

Impacts to Railroad Infrastructure in the Northeast

Service was uninterrupted at our Hampton, NY, terminal. Here is what we know regarding the Bellows Falls, VT, and Grafton, MA, rail terminals: There are some rail lines in Vermont with significant damage from major washouts and mud slides that are still out of service. The hardest hit areas are from Rutland, VT, southeast to Bellows Falls, VT, and from Montpelier, VT, heading southeast to just past Barre, VT.

Vermont Rail Systems (VTR) has made amazing progress with track repairs on many of their lines and most of them have reopened. They’ve also done an excellent job of communicating with their customers (which we appreciate) with daily progress reports and inbound and outbound traffic planning.

In addition, the VTR has been working closely on detour planning with the Canadian Pacific, PanAm, CSX, and Norfolk-Southern railroads to coordinate the routing of detour trains, which is expected to last for a few more weeks.

Fortunately, the good news for our customers is that while there are still many road closures from flash flooding and washouts around the Northeast, we don’t anticipate any propane supply interruptions to you.

What’s Happening With Propane Prices?

Belvieu propane prices started the month near $.53 per gallon which is the lowest price level in nearly three years. Prices have since followed crude higher, climbing towards a high near $.65 per gallon last Friday, before moving even higher the past few days towards $.67 per gallon.

Propane Price Chart

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Weekly Inventory Numbers

A surprising draw in the Gulf Coast dampened the total build for U.S. propane inventories, which only showed a minimal build of .89 mmbbls. for the week ending July 14, 2023. The build was below industry expectations and brings national inventory levels to 84.68 mmbbls., about 43 percent above last year and 24 percent above the 5-year average.

PADD 2 (Midwest/Conway) inventories had a fairly pedestrian build of .83 mmbbls. They currently stand at 23.10 mmbbls., nearly 21 percent higher than ‚Äčlast year.

PADD 3 (Gulf Coast/Belvieu) inventories had an unexpected draw of .57 mmbbls. They currently stand at 51.19 mmbbls., roughly 65 percent ahead of last year.

The Skinny

Mother Nature can be cruel and unpredictable. The recent flash floods have reminded us of the importance of asset diversification and strong partnerships.

None of it would be possible without your business, for which we're truly thankful!

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NOTE: The views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, unless attributed to a third-party source, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ray Energy Corp, its affiliates, or its employees. The information set forth herein has been obtained or derived from sources believed by the author to be reliable. However, the author does not make any representation or warranty, express or implied, as to the information’s accuracy or completeness, nor does the author recommend that the attached information serve as the basis of any buying decision and it has been provided to you solely for informational purposes.
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