BNSF service recovery efforts are producing improved network performance as we move into the middle of August. Despite last week's derailment and challenging operating conditions due to high wind events along the Southern Transcon, overall velocity increased this week by 15%. As a result of our improvements in velocity and fluidity, we have also been able to significantly reduce backlogs for agricultural products and across our merchandise network.
Our temporary permit embargo in California continues to drive greater throughput and efficiencies as train flows on the network come back into balance. We issued permits for 35% more cars versus the prior week, and we anticipate that the number of permits issued weekly will continue to increase as network conditions improve. Customers can refer to our online form to submit permit requests, view the current list of commodities exempted from the embargo, and obtain additional information.
While much of the network will experience favorable operating conditions, we are monitoring the possibility of heavy rain and flash flooding over parts of the Gulf Coast this weekend. Flood watches may affect much of the Southwest as monsoonal rains move through the area over the next several days. BNSF teams will monitor conditions closely, address any track washouts, and quickly restore service through impacted locations.
As always, we thank you for your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve as your transportation service provider. We welcome your feedback and questions.