First the solar eclipse then Hurricane Harvey, August has had quite a few extraordinary events that have caused major delays in transportation and commerce in general. So, how will this translate to the freight industry?
It can take several months for markets to get settled again after a major disruption like the recent hurricane.
Just to give an idea of how much Harvey disrupted freight:
- Both of Houston’s major airports closed
- George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports move 442,563 metric tons of freight every year
- Its rail yards and nearby ports were majorly disrupted.
- The city’s extensive highway system was largely underwater.
So, none of the freight in Houston can be moved and none of the freight headed to Houston can get there. Freight companies have to store the freight while they wait for conditions to stabilize which costs shippers money.
Truck drivers are still working through flooded roads, down power lines, dealing with damaged or inaccessible warehouses and distribution centers trying to get freight moved.
But, there are other factors that get in the way as well.
- Idling trucks waiting for water to recede
- Shipment prioritization for relief and emergency construction supplies over regular freight
- Slowing overall operations due to congestion on roadways and in freight loading areas
- Productivity reduced in general
In addition to delaying shipments and damaging equipment, there will be significant pricing effects from the hurricane.
It can raise fuel costs approximately $1 a gallon, bringing it to its highest all year. Areas in the southeast will be affected the most since it sources the majority of oil from the Gulf coast.