Early winter storms could cause freight schedules to slip

It’s snowing at the wrong time and in all the wrong places. That means a lot of freight delivery schedules are going to slip.

Over the weekend, Winter Storm Diego blanketed Charlotte, Raleigh and many miles of highway in North Carolina, extending east to Tennessee and north to Virginia. Snow and ice are everywhere, and tens of thousands are without power.

Ten inches of white stuff covered Lubbock, Tex. There are black ice warnings for Alabama and Georgia. It also snowed in Chicago, Omaha, and Kansas City, but nobody gets quite so worked up about that. Those cities tend to have systems in place to plow the roads and keep them safe.

Storms freeze freight flows

Winter storms can have a big impact on regional freight moves, especially during a busy season. During a big storm, everything grinds to a halt. When roads are clear again, pent-up demand will drive rates higher on lanes that pass into, out of, or through the affected area. We should see some of that heightened activity later this week in the Southeast and South Central regions.

Demand could get intense, especially if more snow falls or other major freight hubs are affected, too. Major e-commerce providers have promised free shipping on all orders, and some of their delivery commitments are pretty aggressive.

The disruption in freight is happening at a busy time, which also creates opportunities for spot market providers to save someone’s day. Embrace the challenges ahead, but keep one eye on the weather report.

Stay warm!

Peggy Dorf

Peggy joined DAT in 2008 as a writer and market analyst. She was instrumental in developing DAT Trendlines, and she writes extensively about the impact of economic trends on companies and individuals in transportation and logistics. Peggy is a Certified Transportation Broker with decades of experience in technology marketing and an MBA from the Wharton School.


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