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How Can Weather Affect Your Freight Shipment?

Whether you live in the South of the US and deal with heavy rain, or live in the Northeast and blizzards are the norm for several months out of the year–we’re all affected by bad weather at some point. When it comes to shipping freight, bad weather can cause all kinds of shipping issues from delays to increased costs. None of which are good for your business.

Understanding how weather can affect your freight shipment gives you the knowledge you need to plan ahead and possibly avoid some of the common issues that result from bad weather. Below are five ways weather can affect your freight shipment, plus how you can prepare for what Mother Nature throws at your supply chain.

1. Road Conditions

Trucking and truckers are the backbone of the American economy, but they can’t do anything if the road conditions aren’t safe. If flooding or too much snow accumulates on the road, road closures could happen. That means an alternative route needs to be taken, which could possibly extend transit time. As frustrating as that is for all parties involved, safety is the top priority when it comes to truckers on the road. Keeping truckers safe also means that your freight shipment is kept safe, even though hazardous road conditions might delay delivery times.

Hauling an 18-wheeler which weighs 4 tons while carrying thousands of dollars of products in the trailer can be stressful by itself. When you add in poor visibility, traction issues, the need to brake quickly, and other drivers on a dangerous road, things get trickier.

2. Ports or Terminals

Much like roads, ports and terminals may be closed temporarily, or opened with limited capacity due to abnormal weather. Terminals may either close completely or conduct limited operations. This isn’t just for the safety of the facility itself, but for the people who are working in that terminal keeping it operational. Safety is top priority for everyone involved. If the terminal has limited access during bad weather, it means that some shipments will go out, but shipments could be delayed. Terminal closures occur when it’s too dangerous for anyone to be working at the freight terminal or to be driving on the roads.

3. Guarantees and Expedited Shipping

Opting for guaranteed or expedited shipping services is an additional cost which puts your shipment at the top of carriers’ priority lists. But, when unexpected, dangerous weather comes along and disrupts the timing of your shipment’s transit, nothing is guaranteed anymore. Remaining cognizant of weather conditions along the route that your shipment is taking helps you plan if you should spend money requesting these services, and helps you manage your expectations in terms of estimated transit times.

4. Power Outages

If the power goes out, the freight world can’t do much. Hurricanes, tornadoes, severe blizzards, and other forms of extreme natural disasters damage infrastructure, power lines, communication channels, and more. That makes it difficult to do things that are vital during the freight shipping process like getting updates and statuses on your freight. Additionally, truckers can’t fill up at gas stations in an impacted area, and it becomes a big mess. Working with a powerful transportation management software that can help you track your shipment.

5. Capacity Limitations

When a natural disaster or other form of inclement weather impacts airplanes, ships or trucks, that means there are less available to conduct normal operations. A traffic jam on a major highway due to too much snow or flooding or a driver having to take a different route than expected keeps trucks and truckers out of the capacity pool. A hurricane near a port means that vessels might be re-routed or ports might close. So, a storm across the country that may not have directly impacted you, could still have some kind of influence over your carriers' options and rates.

Weathering the Storm

When the unexpected weather causes issues, you need to be able to adapt quickly so your supply chain can operate at full capacity. Finding solutions while overcoming inclement weather is a challenge to do on your own. That’s why partnering with a technology forward customs broker like Zeus can help you weather the storm. We can not only centralize your trade documents and messages, but can also update you on the status of your shipments. If any troubles occur, your supply chain can weather any storm that comes its way.

Start by getting a free demo today or give us a call at 415-800-6500.


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