Winter weather has chilling effect on already tight transportation market.
Days of bitterly cold weather across the northern United States, followed by a massive winter storm along the Atlantic coast, are raising concerns for shippers. The extreme cold that blanketed the Midwest before moving east is causing delivery delays, and in an already tight truckload and LTL (Less than truckload) environment, raising the specter of spikes in pricing.
Shippers who remember the polar vortex of 2014 know what to expect in the wake of a weather event of this magnitude: less available transportation capacity and higher spot market truck rates, with many trucks and other assets in transportation networks out of place as the recovery begins. With temperatures falling to the point where diesel engines cannot even start, operators must consider conditions not only at the point of origin and destination, but ensure roads are passable in between, with massive snow drifts and hurricane-force winds reported.
Winter Storm Grayson is unusual in the size of its footprint, as well as its severity. Ports as far south as Savannah were forced to close, and snow obstructed roads down to Tallahassee, Florida. Even after the storm’s passing, and a return to more seasonable winter temperatures, delays, port closings, carrier embargoes on freezable freight and backed-up shipments piling up in warehouses can continue to affect supply chains in the weeks ahead, impacting logistics operations even in areas far removed from the storm’s fury.
Just as in the 2014 polar vortex, and after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the ripple affect will likely affect sales and production, possibly for months. Businesses with contingency plans and an efficient Transportation Management System (TMS) in place will feel less frostbite.