As much of the country battles extreme cold and snow, trucking companies, port operators, freight train managers, and air cargo transporters struggle with delays and severe operating conditions. Much of the Midwest, particularly the Chicago area, and New England have battled snow and ice, as well as below normal temperatures. This is delaying freight shipped by air, truck, and rail. Many of the nation’s ports are also shut down, including Houston, New Orleans, Mobile and Charleston, which is delaying shipments headed in with imports from Europe and South America. Weather was at least partially to blame for a last-minute drop in spot truck freight volume and prices. January had been on track for strong gains for the month, until the last week when much of the South and Eastern Seaboard was hit with sudden and severe snow storms. The cost of diesel fuel went up, as volume and rates fell for many carriers. Volume for vans, flat beds, and reefers all declined by varying degrees.
The problems are also evident in air freight, as many air hubs are completely or partially shut down, including O’Hare in Chicago. Delays and problems were also reported in Boston, New York City, and Washington D.C., among others. Problems have been reported in Canada, as well, and the delays due to weather along the eastern sections of the country are causing shipments and dispatch delays all the way to the west coast.
Just as the country began to clear out and recover from the last blast from the polar vortex, the weather system known as Nika geared up to deliver more ice, snow, and cold through areas from coast to coast, from Montana to Arizona and New Jersey to Florida. The system is expected to deliver snow to the northern regions of the storm, and cold rains to the southern edges.