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By Brendan Murray | Bloomberg

Cargo ships enduring one of the worst U.S. port bottlenecks in more than a decade faced down another obstacle as they waited to offload near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach: a lashing from Mother Nature.

Winds gusting to 55 knots (63 mph) and 17-foot waves forced 17 loaded container vessels to depart their anchorages for safety out at sea, the Marine Exchange of Southern California said in a note late Monday. Another 14 carriers remained anchored outside the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, it said.

The storm prevented “many” scheduled port movements, and marine officials indicated that the congestion doesn’t look likely to clear soon: 28 additional container lines are scheduled to arrive in the next three days — 11 more than the usual pre-Covid traffic.

“We cannot recall a more complex situation with this many vessels and this bad a wind and sea condition, for such as sustained period of time,” said Kip Louttit, executive director of the marine exchange.

In the past two months, two container ships making transpacific crossings have encountered bad weather and high seas that contributed to the loss of nearly 2,500 containers overboard.