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Weather-How does it impact your shipments?

Feb 26, 2015

Planning shipments can be complicated. Sometimes you may feel like you need a crystal ball to make sure that you’ll have enough product to put on your store shelves, to fill orders or enough parts to assure production doesn’t come to a halt. Weather can come into play any time of year. It’s impossible to know for sure what impact the weather may have on shipments coming your way. There are many factors to consider so allowing for delays is always a good idea.

Freight in bad weather2.jpg There’s so many things that can happen to delay or alter the timing of shipments that are caused by weather. Snow, ice, rain, wind, temperature, visibility, flooding, hurricanes, tornados and so much more can alter delivery times. 

Of course moderate weather like snow and rain that doesn’t stop the movement of traffic may still make it move more slowly when roadways get slippery and visibility is reduced. This, alone, may impact the ability of carriers to deliver shipments on a predictable schedule.

Severe weather causes delays

Unfortunately when more severe weather events occur delays become more obvious. A blizzard in an area may shut down roads for hours or days. Ice may make roads temporarily impassible. Flooding can shut down a sea port, an airport or close roads and tunnels making it impossible to pass through an area or for a shipment to make its connection from one mode of transportation to another. High winds can slow traffic through an area and a hurricane can stop the movement of a shipment due to hazardous conditions, because of closed roads that have debris on them or, worse yet, have been washed out by a storm.

Temperatures have an impact too

Interestingly enough high heat can come into play too by causing railroad tracks to buckle in spots potentially causing a derailment, stoppage for repair, temporary speed restrictions or a detour lengthening the time a shipment travels to its destination. Since frozen pavements are less susceptible to damage by trucks, they are legally allowed to carry 10 percent heavier loads. Warmer winters reduce the time this exception is permitted resulting in less freight capacity and potentially altered delivery schedules.

Water- too little or too much

Droughts also disrupt traffic on rivers and inland waterways due to low water levels that prevent the movement of barges sometimes for months. This results on greater demands on other modes of transportation causing longer shipping times due to reduced available capacity. On the other end of the spectrum flooding on the same waterways may raise the water level so high that passage under bridges by the usual carrier becomes impossible. 

Think about where your shipment will be traveling

Of course you may be located in an area that is not experiencing the weather event that is causing the delay. Unfortunately when planning for potential shipment delays it can’t be “out of sight, out of mind”. It is helpful to stay current with what’s happening with the weather in the regions where your shipments will be traveling. This is the weather that can impact its delivery.

Being aware of expected or potential weather problems in the area your shipments will be moving through will help you to better anticipate possible delays and longer delivery times. For example, if you have a shipment coming from Vermont in January you may want to allow for potential delays caused by snow, ice or a blizzard. During hurricane season you may want to allow extra time for freight coming from southern Florida or along the coast.

What else can you do to plan for weather delays?

Beyond keeping up with current weather conditions what can you do to help plan your shipments? Working closely with your Third Party Logistics (3PL) partner to plan and track shipments is one thing. You can also work closely with your representative to plan shipping methods, routes and timing to avoid difficulties or potential delays caused by weather. For additional information or assistance with planning contact your representative at American Group or call us at 866-553-6608.