How Will Hurricane Harvey Affect Freight Rates?

Even if you’re not planning to go anywhere near Texas or Louisiana, you might be affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Trucks can’t get in or out of Houston, which is a huge freight hub – it’s the number 1 source of loads for flatbeds, thanks to the oil and gas industry, and one of the top 5 or 6 markets for both van and reefer freight. There are at least six states that are typically served by distribution centers in Houston, and for now, they will have to be re-supplied from a different direction.

For example, you can expect to see a lot more than the usual number of westbound loads on DAT load boards out of Atlanta, Charlotte and Greenville, SC in the next week or two. Truck shortages are becoming acute in the Upper Midwest, because so many carriers are diverting their trucks to the South Central region to help with emergency relief. There will be other ripple effects, too, and you’ll want to take all that into account when you choose loads or trucks and negotiate rates in the coming weeks.

Before the storm hit, total load posts on DAT load boards were up slightly compared to the previous week. That pushed load-to-truck ratios higher for vans. Outside of the storm-affected areas, rates were trending up out of Buffalo and Chicago, while prices continued to rise steadily in the Midwest and Northeast. We expect to see rates climb in the Southeast in the coming weeks as cargo ships will be diverted from Houston’s deep water port to places like Miami, Savannah, and Charleston, and then transferred to other freight hubs in the region, including Memphis, Atlanta, and Greenville, SC.

Rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between carriers and brokers


  • Philadelphia to Boston rates rose 25¢ to $3.53 per mile – this is something of a bellwether for the Northeast overall
  • Buffalo to Charlotte added 20¢ to $1.88 per mile
  • Chicago to Buffalo got a 14¢ boost, to $2.73 per mile, which is an unexpectedly high rate, even for a head haul lane into the Northeast


  • Philadelphia to Buffalo rates dropped 16¢ to an average of $2.26 per mile
  • Columbus to Memphis lost 10¢ of the previous week’s gain, back to $1.70 per mile
  • Seattle to Spokane rates fell 11¢, to $2.67 per mile, and Seattle to Eugene, OR was off by 10¢ to $2.20 per mile – those adjustments are due largely to a transition in produce season in California as well as the Pacific Northwest

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