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Shippers have always had to be concerned about potential supply chain disruptions. Now a drought is altering the size of ships that can pass through the Panama Canal, which could alter shipping patterns and transportation needs.

Since January 1, Panama City has received only 40 percent of its normal rainfall -- 9.35 inches compared to 23.43 inches normally. Lower water levels mean the canal will have to limit how deeply ships are immersed as they pass through the waterway, leading to changes in which the maximum draft will drop to 39 feet from 39.5 feet. Some ships may have to reduce their cargo to be able to pass through, and that change could have consequences for manufacturing and trigger far-reaching delays.

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