According to Wikipedia.org, hurricane season starts in the Atlantic the first of June, but it seems official now with the threat of Dorian hitting the Florida coast sometime in the next 72 hours. The National Weather Service says it is currently a category three but is predicting it will reach category four status by the time it reaches the coast. Like a nail-biting horserace, no one is sure what to expect at the finish line until the final moment of impact.
Photo courtesy of The Weather Channel, August 30, 2019
The transport of goods in an area surrounding a significant weather event can have a huge impact on not only shippers but receivers, carriers and freight brokers who are involved in the transaction. There are preemptive steps that manufacturers, warehouse managers, and logistics directors can take to help keep chaos and cost to a minimum when extreme weather strikes close to home.
Shippers are encouraged to get their freight in and out of Florida, Southern Georgia, and even the Carolinas as quickly as possible. By planning ahead and following emergency preparedness procedures, transportation stakeholders can avoid extraneous costs and the unnecessary chaos due to expediting fees, lack of capacity, and extended delays. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Prioritize your freight – Is it essential to ship just before a hurricane or can it wait a day or two? Human safety should take precedence, so make sure to ship early enough to get your inventory to its destination before landfall.
- Over communicate – Do you know your receivers’ procedures during a potential weather disaster? Will you be able to contact essential personnel? Are they likely to close early? If so, plan accordingly to deter detention fees and late delivery charges.
- Shop prices - Rates will fluctuate and likely increase for freight going in and out of affected areas. If it is essential that your shipment move, make sure you do your due diligence and get multiple freight rates.
- Have a contingency plan – If something goes wrong, have a back up plan. Make sure all parties remain in constant contact with one another, and products are tracked and accounted for throughout the shipment’s journey. Security can be a big problem during natural disasters when things are chaotic and accountability becomes negligible. Having added security can save you thousands of dollars in stolen freight.
In the case of Hurricane Dorian, the Port of Miami has gone into “X-Ray” mode, which means the ports remain open for now but are they are in preparation for hurricane conditions. This includes reducing the stacking heights of cargo containers. Any hazardous materials must be limited to a two-stack height, whereas other commodities are restricted to no more than four high. These simple preemptive steps can save the ports from added disaster. For more information, contact email@example.com.
The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) is the sole provider for rail services for the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach. A customer service representative explained that they are preparing now to make sure they protect their assets. Operations teams are working with different terminals, getting ready to shut down gates in the affected areas first to avoid congestion. These precautions will start in earnest tonight and be monitored throughout the storm until safer conditions return. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic courtesy of NOAA
2019 Hurricane Facts:
- Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30 every year.
- The most active month in the Atlantic for tropical storms and hurricanes is September.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts 9 – 15 named storms this season.
- Four to Eight of these storms will reach hurricane status.
- Two of them are predicted to reach Major Hurricane Status, which means it will become a category three, four, or five.
- So far this year, there have been two hurricanes, Barry and Dorian.
A special note to our customers: Choptank's customer service team is available 24/7/365. If you have a question or concern regarding your freight over the Labor Day weekend, call us at 800.568.2240 or e-mail your Choptank Transport representative. There is a good chance that shipping schedules will be heavily impacted sometime during this storm, which may include lack of capacity going into Florida and leaving the state. Shippers and receivers’ hours of operation will most likely be limited, with delays and closures probable.
We ask that if you have critical freight that needs to go into Florida, you book it immediately, and if you have freight that isn’t time-sensitive, you might want to wait until storm conditions pass.
We cannot tell how this will affect capacity or pricing, but there will certainly be some impacts to business-as-usual. If you have any issues, we ask that you contact your Choptank Transport representative as soon as possible.
Above all, we want to keep our contracted carriers safe, and wish all those in the path of the storm secure and safe harbor.
Your Friends at Choptank Transport