These are interesting times we are living in, “for the first time in more than 60 years, two names tropical cyclones could be spinning in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time” (Austin). Individuals who live near the Gulf of Mexico understand that Hurricane season is a way of life. Each year we keep our eyes on the gulf to ensure that we are prepared for whatever Hurricane might come our way. One thing that I never thought of until entering the transportation and logistics industry was, how hurricanes affect drayage operations.

Ports are directly affected when a hurricane makes landfall as they are the first point of contact for the hurricane. Therefore, there are certain policies and procedures that must be taken to ensure that everything is safe once the hurricane makes landfall. Procedures such as ensuring “all vessels greater than 300 gross tons depart unless the Captain of the Port (COTP) has approved a request, to remain in port…” all cargo operations must cease and “bulk liquid terminals must ensure that all transfer hoses and loading arms are drained, flanged and secured” (Hawes). Due to these necessary precautions, there will be delays out of the port (Austin).

Last year when Hurricane Irma passed through, there were delays that affected the transportation process. A disruption caused by a hurricane in the supply chain can affect many individuals. After Hurricane Irma, Amazon struggled to “[keep] its word of two-day shipping to customers” (iContainers). The issue with transportation after a hurricane is that when an area is devastated after a storm, “already-thin resources” are stretched (McCrea). When hurricane Irma hit Houston in 2019, Atlanta had to pick up the slack for the Houston shipments that could not be transported by a truck since the roads were flooded, ultimately Irma indirectly affected the Atlanta market due to the butterfly effect. In addition to flooded roads, trucks may not be able to drive due to the flood waters washing out the roads and highways. Hurricane Irma closed “six major ports” which “handle one of every six containers going in and out of North America” (iContainers). When you think of how many containers are moving every day, one out of six is a very large number. The ripple affect continues into metrics such as rate increases. Zipline Logistics reports an 11% increase in average cost per load and a 15% increase in average cost per mile, a decrease of 1,000 loads moved and an increase on average by 10.17% in average transit days after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (Natural)

Hurricanes Marco, and Laura are in the Gulf of Mexico, making their way towards land. Ocean Freight in New Orleans is anticipated to be affected by Hurricane Marco late Monday August 24th or early Tuesday, August 25th. (Hill)  

Marco, which is anticipated to hit hardest “south of New Orleans, near Grand Isle” (Austin). Due to the prediction as to where the hurricane will make landfall and be the most disastrous, the U.S. Coast Guard temporarily closed ports in Louisiana under condition ZULU. Condition ZULU “means no vessels may enter or move within these ports without permission of the COTP, and all ship-to-shore operations must cease until further notice” (Austin). 

Laura, which is anticipated to hit Beaumont and Lake Charles late Wednesday, August 26th or early Thursday, August 27th.  Laura is expected to deliver 5 to 10 inches of rainfall with up to 15 inches in some locations. Be sure to be on the lookout for flash flooding and tornadoes as a result from severe thunderstorms. (Austin)

If you believe you will be affected by Hurricane Marco or Laura, it is important to be prepared and ensure you have the appropriate provisions to weather the storm. Be safe and stay aware!

Works Cited

Austin, Nick. “Port Restrictions Set Ahead of Dual Land-Falling Hurricanes.” FreightWaves, 23 Aug. 2020, www.freightwaves.com/news/port-restrictions-set-ahead-of-dual-land-falling-hurricanes.

Austin, Nick. “Ports Closed as Tropical Cyclones Approach US (with Forecast Video).” FreightWaves, 24 Aug. 2020, www.freightwaves.com/news/ports-closed-as-tropical-cyclones-approach-us-with-forecast-video.

Hawes, Clarissa, and Follow on Twitter. “Tropical Storms Marco, Laura on Dual Path toward Louisiana.” FreightWaves, 23 Aug. 2020, www.freightwaves.com/news/tropical-storms-marco-laura-on-dual-path-toward-louisiana.

Hill, Kevin. “The Daily Dash: Truckload Capacity Already Tight as Storms Approach.” FreightWaves, 23 Aug. 2020, www.freightwaves.com/news/the-daily-dash-truckload-capacity-already-tight-as-storms-approach.

iContainers. “How Hurricanes Affect Shipping and Logistics – @IContainers.” IContainers, 26 Sept. 2017, www.icontainers.com/us/2017/09/26/how-hurricanes-affect-shipping-and-logistics/.

McCrea, Bridget. “When Hurricanes Disrupt the Supply Chain.” SourceToday, 13 Sept. 2017, www.sourcetoday.com/supply-chain/article/21866899/when-hurricanes-disrupt-the-supply-chain.

“Natural Disaster Logistics: Prepping for Hurricane Transportation.” Zipline Logistics, 23 Jan. 2020, ziplinelogistics.com/blog/hurricane-transportation-impacts/.