Freight Rates Adjust to Post-Hurricane Irma Demand

< Back to posts

Relief efforts are underway in Florida, and our hearts go out to those recovering from Hurricane Irma. We’ve seen a big increase in van freight moving from Atlanta and Charlotte down into the state. Some of that is also the result of pent-up demand from shipments that were delayed by the storm.

Load counts also continued to climb out of Dallas and Houston, as Texas works its way back to business as usual. Nationally, spot market volumes rose above pre-Harvey levels, and load-to-truck ratios on DAT load boards remain high.

DAT employees are donating to American Red Cross to help support those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and DAT Solutions is matching those contributions. To learn more about how you can help, visit the Red Cross website. Transportation and logistics professionals are urged to contact the American Logistics Aid Network, if you can help provide trucks, trailers, or warehouse space.

As mentioned above, there’s been a big uptick in freight going into Florida from Atlanta and Charlotte, and rates on those lanes soared last week. Part of that, though, is because there’s even less freight leaving Florida than usual, so the inbound rates account for at least part of the potential deadhead miles on the roundtrip.


  • The biggest jump was on the lane from Atlanta to Lakeland, FL, which spiked 70¢ to an average of $3.65/mile
  • Atlanta to Miami rose 54¢ to $3.19/mile
  • Atlanta to Tampa was also up to $3.12/mile
  • Charlotte to Lakeland soared 42¢ to $3.32/mile last week, but that price appears to be falling this week
  • Rates are still high on loads going back and forth from Charlotte and Atlanta as well.

Van rates are also way up on key lanes like Columbus to Atlanta, as supply chains adjust to the demand for southbound freight

  • Chicago and Columbus outbound rates have risen 15% in the past month, since the Midwest hubs have been in position to facilitate rerouted freight from both Harvey and Irma
  • Rates out of California continued to rise at a slower pace than the rest of the country, but volumes got a big boost in Stockton, so that could change soon


Rates fell on only 35 of the top 100 van lanes, and the biggest declines were mostly in Texas. Pricing there continues to normalize after hitting some historic highs following Hurricane Harvey. Rates on many lanes are still higher than they were before the storm, though, with tight capacity and high demand keeping prices high.

  • That includes the Dallas to Houston lane, which fell another 54¢ but is still high at $2.96/mile
  • Houston to New Orleans also declined 19¢ to $2.42/mile
  • Farther north, Chicago to Buffalo dropped 28¢ on relatively low volume, but still averaged $3.03/mile

Like with vans, the southward shift in freight movements after Irma led to big reefer rate increases on lanes going in and out of Atlanta, with emergency freight and delayed shipments heading down to Florida.

Nationally, spot market reefer volumes have held steady, and demand picked up in Northern California. There were smaller increases in volume down in Los Angeles and Ontario, even though prices slipped in the southern part of the state. Florida produce was well past peak season when Irma hit, but we might still see an uptick in citrus shipments from California or across the Mexican border to compensate for lost Florida crops.


These rates will likely change a lot in the coming weeks, but they’ve stayed high through the early part of this week:

  • The biggest increase was on the lane from Atlanta to Miami, which jumped up 68¢ to $3.34/mile last week
  • Lakeland, FL, also serves the Tampa market, and the lane from Atlanta to Lakeland added 52¢ at $3.89/mile
  • Elizabeth, NJ, to Lakeland and Philadelphia to Miami both added an average of 31¢ per mile

Just like with vans, rates on some key lanes heading into Atlanta also rose:

  • Chicago to Atlanta hit a whopping $3.73/mile
  • Grand Rapids to Atlanta rose 42¢ to $3.10/mile

September also happens to be potato harvest season in Wisconsin, and reefer rates have soared 30% out of Green Bay in the past month.


Of the top 72 reefer lanes, the same number of lane rates rose as fell. Of those lanes that had lower rates, the adjustments were slight. The biggest decline was on the lane from Dallas to Houston, which dropped 43¢ to an average of $3.16/mile, but that’s still a much higher rate than it was before Harvey.

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in DAT load boards, including rates from DAT RateView.

Related Posts

Demand for dry van equipment continued to slide last week, along with rates. We saw it coming, as load-to-truck ratios

Spot market demand for dry van truckload shipments picked up steam again last week, with retail freight leading to tighter

By and large, spring was not kind to carriers, so the higher rates we’ve been seeing in recent weeks are