According to the an updated forecast released last week by The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), meteorologists are forecasting a strong El Nino weather pattern that could continue through Spring of 2016. Bill Patzert, a climatologist with NASA, has warned, “This could be the El Nino of our generation.” Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center also claimed, “We’re predicting this El Nino could be among the strongest El Nino’s in the historical record.”
What is an El Nino?
El Nino is an uncharacteristic, yet periodic, warming of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean that affects weather across the planet. For reasons still not very well understood by meteorologist, every 2-7 years, this patch of ocean warms for six to 18 months.
Effect of a Strong El Nino?
While El Nino Weather patterns are not the sole driver of the atmosphere and El Nino’s can be very hard to predict, it has been seen in the past that they tend to cause much heavier rainfall in the Southern United States especially toward the end of Fall and Winter.
The major concern here is this rainfall could bring severe weather events such as flash flooding and mudslides that could have a major impact on the area and on transportation in specific.
What can shippers do to help prepare and deal with weather issues when they arrive?
- Monitor weather reports online 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 they are accustomed to shipping in to secure more capacity.
- For example, if – normally shipments are over the road, intermodal may be an option.
- Provide as much lead time on loads as possible (especially during hurricane season) so that all potential options can be explored.