(August 22, 2014) Weather is unpredictable and can have serious, often costly, effects on transportation. As the Atlantic hurricane season continues, understanding the impacts of inclement weather and how to best plan for it can minimize disruption and unforeseen costs.
Typical impact by storm approaching and arriving
- Stage 1: Potential storm threat – Spot prices surge as companies rush orders out
- Stage 2: The storm gets closer – Rates for existing trucks in the area are maintained or even reduced (albeit slightly) to get out of the area
- Stage 3: The storm hits – Impact varies – depends on storm severity, how rest of country is impacted.
Capacity and service are not only affected in the storm zone but in the surrounding regions as well due to the rerouting of traffic through those areas.
Shippers are often blindsided when they’re located in unaffected areas but the routes their loads are expected to take are essentially shut down.
Storm planning tips
- Monitor weather reports on The Weather Channel (National Forecast, Hurricane Central, and Driving Outlook links in particular) to see what areas are potentially going to be hit while taking into consideration the route and expected destination of the load.
- Utilize transportation providers that have the size and scale to handle extra freight volume when capacity becomes scarce.
- Consider taking advantage of a broad selection of services in modes outside the one you’re accustomed to shipping in to secure more capacity.
- For example, if you normally are shipping bulk over the road, you may want to explore intermodal options.
- Provide as much lead time on loads as possible (especially during hurricane season) so that all potential options can be explored.
Weather has and always will be a factor when it comes to transportation. It’s important for logistics planners to proactively strategize and take the time to determine if their current supply chain strategy could weather the storm.