The Impact of Weather on Supply Chains

Extreme weather events, from hurricanes and blizzards to historic flooding, have significant implications for supply chains, freight rates, and road safety. These occurrences can disrupt supply chains, necessitate urgent actions from truckers, increase demand for certain commodities, and delay shipments. Moreover, adverse weather conditions like high winds, ice, and whiteouts pose substantial risks to drivers on the road and the cargo in their trucks. In this blog post, we’ll explore the effects of major weather events on supply chains and highlight the risks involved, including major supply chain disruptions, high winds, and navigating icy roads and whiteouts.

Major Supply Chain Disruptions

Major weather events can cause immediate volatility and long-lasting effects on supply chains, depending on their impact areas. Local and regional supply chains may experience shutdowns, while road closures and business/government office closures further hinder operations. To evacuate areas about to be hit by storms, truckers often rush to transport freight, leading to decreased spot rates as carriers aim to move their drivers and cargo quickly. Conversely, the aftermath of destructive hurricanes triggers an influx of inbound shipments of materials, causing increased spot rates due to heightened demand. Historic flooding can disrupt barges’ transportation routes, requiring alternative methods like trucking or rail, resulting in fluctuating spot rates depending on capacity.

The recovery time from supply chain disruptions can vary significantly depending on the nature and severity of the disruption itself. There is no fixed timeframe for recovery as each situation is unique and influenced by various factors. The best way to avoid major disruptions is to work with an experienced logistics manager who has dealt with these issues before and knows how to properly prepare you to weather the storm.

High Winds

Truckers face one of Mother Nature’s toughest challenges in the form of high winds. Dry vans and reefers are particularly prone to blow-overs due to their large surface areas, especially when hauling empty trailers. Crosswinds perpendicular to the trailer are the most dangerous, while strong headwinds reduce fuel efficiency and increase operating costs.

Although there is no set wind speed considered universally risky, professional drivers often consider anything over 60 mph as hazardous. Wind speeds between 40 and 59 mph can also cause problems depending on the load weight, with gusts often presenting a greater threat than sustained winds. High winds are major disruptors in the transportation process and must be taken seriously to avoid major damage and disruptions.

Navigating Icy Roads and Whiteouts

Ice and whiteouts are among the most dangerous weather conditions drivers face. Black ice, which forms in the early morning hours, presents a significant risk, as it is challenging to detect and can catch tired and less alert drivers off guard. Icy roads can form when the air temperature falls below freezing or when precipitation freezes upon impact. Whiteouts occur when the sky and snow blend into a similar whiteness, severely limiting or completely obstructing visibility. Such conditions can lead to pile-ups and prolonged disruptions to supply chains, blocking interstates for days.

Still Have Questions?

If you still have any questions about how inclement weather impacts supply chains, contact us at LogiWorld and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!

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