Severe Weather Alert: Transportation Impacts 09/08/2017

The catastrophic flooding that followed Hurricane Harvey had a major impact on families and businesses in Texas and parts of Louisiana. Over the past two weeks much work has been done to restore service in the affected areas but there remains progress to be made, particularly in places like Houston where the damage was significant.

Odyssey continues to closely monitor Hurricane Irma as it approaches the US. Officials caution that everyone in the Southeast from Alabama to North Carolina should be monitoring this storm and making preparations. Irma was downgraded to a category 4 hurricane but remains extremely dangerous. Conditions are expected to deteriorate rapidly across South Florida Saturday into Sunday, with life-threatening winds, storm surge, and flooding rain.

Transportation Mode Updates from Carrier Assessments

Service disruptions have begun in parts of the Southeast.  Voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders are in place in some areas of Florida, and a mandatory evacuation on Georgia’s Atlantic Coast is to begin on Saturday. Orders shipping to or through areas along the storm’s path will likely be delayed.

Active communication between carriers, suppliers, and customers is imperative for coordinating short- and long-term recovery efforts.

Many rail and trucking carriers are providing additional notices of disruptions and service outages on their websites.

BULK: Operations have begun declaring Force Majeure for the transportation of any cargo in key areas of Florida in the path of Hurricane Irma. Inbound loads to these areas are being diverted or held at origin locations. Drivers in South Florida are seeking shelter to wait out the storm. Tank wash providers in Florida and southern Georgia are closing today and are planning for limited capability to start next week.

LESS-THAN-TRUCKLOAD: Locations serviced by terminals along the Florida peninsula are under full embargo, which could potentially extend to locations along the Atlantic Coast in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. There are severe traffic constraints in most of the Florida market making for difficult city operations.

INTERMODAL: Intermodal providers may be restricting intermodal traffic south to Miami until further notice Intermodal shippers can expect 72+ hour delays for all traffic into or out of Florida.

Rail: The Federal Railroad Administration declared an “emergency event” for all freight railroad operations and granted waivers for certain FRA regulations during and after the storm.

CSX began taking precautionary measures to protect employees, rail traffic and infrastructure while monitoring the storm, stating all necessary actions will be taken as conditions warrant, including relocation of personnel, and rerouting rail cars and locomotives out of areas in the projected path of the hurricane. Customers with freight moving through impacted areas will be advised of any potential delays.

FEC Railway continues to monitor the path of Irma, suspending local and mainline service today, September 8th.

Norfolk Southern will hold traffic enroute to the region at various yards throughout its system in an effort to alleviate congestion in the affected regions. The railroad is in the process of issuing embargoes for these locations. In preparation of Irma’s landfall, NS is staging resources, including ballast trains, equipment, and generators, and will begin storm recovery efforts once it is safe to do so. Norfolk Southern will be working with customers in these areas to identify switching needs and service curtailment.

Transportation Updates from Port, Depots, and Support Assessments

TX

Shipping delays and transportation difficulties could continue for weeks, but vessel operations have resumed at all ports.

GA

Garden City Terminal:

  • Gate Operations will continue until close of normal business Friday Sept 8, 2017.
  • Vessel Operations will cease at 2400 Friday Sept 8, 2017.
  • As of 1700 Thursday Sept 7, all hazardous and reefer receiving was discontinued until reopening.
  • Effective 0600 Friday Sept 8, export receiving will be managed closely. All 9 day windows will continue, but only 1 vessel in each service will be open for receiving at a time. This will remain in effect until further notice.
  • Empty Receiving and delivering will cease.
  • Gate 8 will be closed Friday Sept 8, 2017, due to no empty operations at terminal

Ocean Terminal

  • Gate Operations will continue until close of normal business Friday Sept 8, 2017.
  • Vessel Operations will cease at 2400 Friday Sept 8, 2017

Brunswick Terminal(s)

  • Gate Operations will continue until close of normal business Friday Sept 8, 2017.
  • Vessel Operations will cease at 1300 Friday Sept 8, 2017

Re-Opening of Terminals

The opening of the GPA terminals is dependent on Hurricane path and post facilities assessment.

FL

The U.S. Coast Guard has set the following port conditions:
Zulu: Port of Key West. All port operations have been suspended.
Yankee: Port Miami, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, Port Canaveral, Port of Ft. Pierce. These ports and facilities are currently closed to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations while Yankee remains in effect.
X-ray: Port Tampa Bay, Port Manatee, Port St. Pete, JAXPORT, Port of Fernandina. These ports and facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue while X-ray remains in effect.

SC

The South Carolina Ports Authority continues to very closely monitor the path of Hurricane Irma and anticipated weather conditions.

Based on current projections, the conditions in Charleston are expected to allow safe operations.  Normal gate hours and vessel operations will continue, and all SCSPA facilities will remain OPEN until further notice.

Market Impacts & Highway Updates

Market Impact

Productivity

In Texas, some staff that was personally impacted by Harvey have yet to return to work; leaving some facilities to operate at a reduced capacity due to a limited workforce. Economist predict joblessness could remain elevated for weeks in the aftermath of Harvey.

Likewise, employees in Florida and Georgia may be under evacuation orders ahead of Irma, impacting workforce capabilities in those states as well.

Capacity

The impact of Hurricane Harvey is expected to further constrain capacity in a market that was already tight. Trucking is typically among the first industries to experience higher demand in the aftermath of a natural disaster like Harvey.  A shortage of trucking equipment should be expected for a while.

Fuel

Gasoline demand in Florida is up exponentially. Gas stations are running out of fuel; however, diesel inventories have not been impacted at this time.

Pricing

Trucking shortages and high demand may start to drive up prices across the country and to a greater extent, in areas directly affected by the storm.

Additionally, temporary routing charges is likely in the aftermath of Irma for customers who ship inbound to Florida and South Georgia.

Highway Updates

TX

At this time all interstates are open in the Houston area and conditions in terms of road access continue to improve.

FL

The Florida Department of Transportation has implemented a limited “emergency shoulder use” plan for Hurricane Irma evacuations on Interstate 75, at Wildwood, Florida to the Georgia state line.Drivers should only use the left shoulder when they are directed by law enforcement officers and highway signs. Use of the right shoulder is prohibited.

FDOT says there is no contraflow or one-way operation plans in use on Florida roadways. The department said in a release that contraflow blocks southbound lanes needed to bring supplies and inhibits emergency personnel from reaching people in need.

GA

I-16 will be contra-flowed (all four lanes will run westbound) beginning Saturday morning.  This goes from Savannah to the Dublin area and will increase the capacity of the roadway to help expedite travel for those leaving Savannah.