Hurricane season officially started on June 1 and continues through the end of November. Coincidentally, the peak of transportation season coincides with this time as well. After Labor Day, we head into the holiday season when an influx of shipping and freight transportation occurs. Unfortunately, hurricane season can impact intermodal transportation due to the extreme weather conditions that go along with it. Read on to learn more about what can be affected within intermodal transport during this hurricane season and why.
Ship, Rail, & Trucking Issues
Hurricanes can bring varying levels of rainfall, causing unsatisfactory conditions to travel and, most drastically, flooding. Rainy, windy conditions can cause issues for each step in the intermodal transportation process. Ships, trains, and trucks can all be put off track in the event of a hurricane. Ships may be unable to sail due to stormy weather and changes in sea levels. Railroads can be disrupted by warped and washed-out tracks, unsafe visibility levels, and high winds affecting locomotive stability. Truck driving can be affected by high winds, rainfall, and potential flooding. Floods may cause trucks to be unable to follow a standard route, and heavy rain and wind can present hazards while driving. Damage to roads and bridges could also prevent the shipment from following its typical path. If one step in the intermodal transportation process is disrupted, it can cause the following step to be delayed, ultimately resulting in untimely delivery.
Closures and Power Outages
In the event of a severe hurricane, ports, depots, rails, and roads can all become damaged or closed. Although this scenario is not ideal, halting labor may be the only way to keep all workers in these service locations safe. Closures can result from power outages, which are highly likely during hurricane season due to extreme rainfall and powerful winds. Unfortunately, if ports or terminals are closed, this can result in a backup of freight shipping. Shipping containers may be held up at specific locations in the intermodal process, which can cause a strain on the shippers as well as the receivers.
The financial impact due to hurricane season can also significantly affect the transportation industry. The shift in supply and demand can result in higher costs of transporting goods, impacting the intermodal transportation industry, distributors, and many retail outlets. Fuel prices and shipping costs also increase in the event of a hurricane, which can greatly impact profit margins. Fuel can even become scarce during the time of a natural disaster, which can lead to delays and shortages for intermodal transport.
Logistics and transportation organizations must prepare and plan for a hurricane or other extreme weather conditions. Weather intelligence software can be immensely beneficial, predicting the outcome of weather events days and weeks in advance. Although no one cannot change the weather or its impacts, businesses can adapt to these conditions and make sure they are as prepared as possible. Clear communication, support teams, attention to the road, rail, and shipping conditions, as well as ensuring all equipment is running correctly can increase your chances of a successful logistics plan.
Although hurricane season can occasionally throw a wrench into the intermodal transportation process, it is vital to be aware of the impacts and struggles companies can encounter. Here At Northstar Transport Services, our mission is to provide the highest quality transportation service to our customers. We realize that through the implementation of strategic company goals that focus on service, we can do the best job of meeting our customer’s requirements in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. For more information, visit Northstar Transport Services.