2021 has been a yr stuffed with unforgettable climate, from a lethal file chilly snap to main hurricane injury and a crop-killing warmth wave. These are among the many occasions, in no explicit order, that had essentially the most influence on North American transportation, trucking and provide chains.

Deep South deep freeze

A lethal February deep freeze that enveloped the central and southern U.S. turned the nation’s first billion-dollar climate catastrophe on file, based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. At least 125 folks died as a direct or oblique results of the multiday arctic outbreak that produced historic low temperatures, greater than 50 of them in Texas.


Related: News Alert: Ice storm turns lethal in Texas


According to the National Weather Service, the low in Dallas dipped beneath zero for under the fifth time in recorded historical past, reaching minus 2 levels on Feb. 16, which was town’s second coldest temperature. The arctic blast was preceded by an ice storm throughout which a number of folks died because of a 100-plus automobile pile up on Interstate 35 in Fort Worth. Lows have been within the teenagers and single digits in Austin.

Texas skilled the vast majority of the property and infrastructure losses that have been incurred by greater than a dozen states. The preliminary whole injury estimate has exceeded $10 billion, making it the most expensive winter climate catastrophe on file for the U.S.

Pipes and different exterior elements at many Texas petroleum, pure gasoline and energy technology crops cracked beneath the stress of the abnormally chilly situations. This contributed to a breakdown of the state’s electrical grid, leaving tens of millions of Texans with out warmth or electrical energy in the course of the chilly snap. The deep and chronic chilly drove up heating demand and Texas energy producers struggled to satisfy surging demand.

Jason Busch, founding father of Spend Matters, a procurement and provide chain social media web site, informed Veriforce that whereas it’s troublesome to be totally ready for a “black swan” occasion by way of tools and provide chain failures, “we can proactively put mitigation plans in place, which include our suppliers.”

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI.USA). To study extra about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

He instructed that state officers didn’t have the appropriate set of “ready” suppliers lined as much as present assist after an occasion such because the deep freeze.

According to FreightWaves Market Expert Zach Strickland, the deep freeze was positively the highest climate story of the yr concerning provide chains and trucking. He stated the nationwide freight market was stabilizing, because it usually does in January and February, till the storm froze networks and compelled shippers to close down. Then it rebounded rapidly, with the typical demand for freight rising above pre-storm ranges.

This might be seen within the FreightWaves SONAR Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI.USA) chart above. Strickland added that it’s laborious to allocate all the volatility to the deep freeze, however it was clearly a catalyst to some extent.

Hurricane Ida

Ida made landfall close to Port Fourchon, Louisiana, as a strong Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 29. Winds have been clocked at 150 mph when it hit the Gulf Coast.

Along its path of destruction in Louisiana, Ida all however destroyed the small metropolis of Grand Isle and knocked out electrical energy to greater than 1 million folks. There was widespread infrastructure injury within the southeastern a part of the state, in addition to main flooding in coastal areas.


Related: Louisiana ports push for federal assist following Hurricane Ida


Ida pressured ports to shut, and crude oil manufacturing was disrupted as oil services needed to briefly shut down. New Orleans’ levees survived, however energy line injury was in depth throughout town. All of this occurred as excessive demand was already overwhelming provide chains because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trucking corporations have been answerable for bringing in new provides to areas recovering from the storm.

“The trucking industry already has two major issues: long port delays, as well as a labor shortage,” Gad Allon, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, informed Business Insider in mid-September. “Now we’re triple-straining the systems by requiring them to go into areas that will be difficult to access, where they will be bogged down.”

Ida produced an estimated $62.25 billion in injury, making it the sixth-costliest tropical cyclone to hit the nation. Katrina (2005), Harvey (2017), Maria (2017), Irma (2017) and Sandy (2012) are the highest 5.

Pacific Northwest file warmth wave

A scorching triple-digit warmth wave unfold throughout the Pacific Northwest in late June, shattering day by day, month-to-month and all-time data in a number of cities.


Related: How ‘killer’ summer season warmth stole the Christmas tree provide


High temperatures ranged from the mid-90s to greater than 110 levels, as much as 30 levels above regular. All-time file highs have been set in Seattle, Spokane and Vancouver, Washington, in addition to Portland and Pendleton, Oregon, simply to call just a few. The excessive warmth crossed the border into British Columbia, the place the excessive soared to 121 levels in Lytton. This was not solely an all-time file for the city however for the complete nation of Canada.

Image: FreightWaves (Source: NWS)

Unfortunately, the warmth wave hit throughout a severe drought, and a wildfire destroyed a lot of Lytton because of this. Many Christmas tree farmers misplaced bushes resulting from sunburn. Seedlings planted within the spring died, which is able to influence future enterprise.

The scarcity, mixed with excessive demand, jacked up Chtistmas tree costs in some elements of the nation. Doug Hudley, seasonal spokesperson for the National Christmas Tree Association, informed FreightWaves that a lot of the pinch has been felt out West.

“Most of the trees grown in the Pacific Northwest are sold in the Western states, and [those produced in] the East sell in the Eastern states,” Hundley defined. “So there could be a problem with not having enough trees in the West but not in the East.”

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Trusted Rate Assessment Consortium (TRAC) for Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles lane dry van charges. To study extra about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

Another indication of excessive demand is current upward stress on trucking spot charges out of Oregon. A spot price, additionally known as a spot quote, is a one-time payment {that a} shipper pays to have a service transfer a load at present market pricing. Spot charges are a type of short-term, transactional freight pricing that mirror the real-time steadiness of service provide and shipper demand available in the market.

As the demand for actual Christmas bushes started rising final month, the price of delivery them adopted swimsuit. The FreightWaves SONAR chart above, that includes the Trusted Rate Assessment Consortium (TRAC), exhibits the spot price on the Portland to Los Angeles lane leaping from about $1.70 per mile to about $2.05 per mile by mid-November, rising as excessive as almost $2.30 by Thanksgiving. It reached almost $2.40 Saturday.

Colorado snowstorm

A powerful storm in mid-March dumped heavy, moist snow in Denver and the Front Range of the Rockies.

More than 27 inches fell at Denver International Airport (ICAO: DAY) by early morning on March 15, making it the fourth-largest snowstorm on file in Denver since 1881. It was additionally town’s second-largest snowstorm ever within the month of March. Before this blizzard, Denver’s fourth-largest snowstorm on file was on Christmas Eve in 1982 when 23.8 inches of snow piled up.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Outbound Tender Rejction Index (OTRI.DEN) for the Denver freight market. To study extra about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

According to a KUSA-TV report, the heavy snow, excessive winds and icy situations closed all the runways and airline operations at DIA from March 14 into March 15. The storm additionally knocked out electrical energy to a big a part of the Denver metropolitan space.

The FreightWaves SONAR chart above exhibits a spike within the Outbound Tender Rejection Index (OTRI.DEN) for Denver proper after the storm hit. This signifies the reluctance of carriers to just accept from the Denver market, seemingly because of the storm injury. Carriers selected to attend till situations improved and energy was restored earlier than accepting hundreds and sending drivers there to select up the freight.

Colorado landslides

Periods of torrential rain this summer season triggered main mudslides and landslides in northern Colorado, resulting in closures on Interstate 70. The storms got here throughout usually dry months of the yr, and the landslides blocked a couple of 20-mile stretch of the freeway within the Glenwood Canyon space, about 160 miles west of Denver. This is a part of a significant hall for long-haul freight and agricultural merchandise, based on the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).


Related: Colorado trucking firm takes ‘huge hit’ from I-70 closures


CDOT informed FreightWaves it needed to shut down that a part of I-70 seven instances between late June and mid-August resulting from landslides, in addition to mudslides and particles flows from wildfire burn scar areas. The longest closing lasted just a little greater than two weeks. Many carriers, like Denney Transport, needed to reroute their drivers properly out of their manner as a way to get round the issue, reducing effectivity resulting from elevated transit instances.

Mudslide on Interstate 70 in northern Colorado, Aug. 9, 2021. (Photo: CDOT)

“At the end of the day, we took a huge hit and it was incredibly frustrating for a period of time when it was constant,” Erica Denney, gross sales supervisor for Denver-based Denney Transport, informed FreightWaves.

While transportation officers have been finally capable of stabilize the realm and hold I-70 open, they proceed to work on attainable long-term options to stopping the difficulty sooner or later.

Pacific Northwest floods

Months of persistent rain in the course of the fall culminated in main flooding throughout the Pacific Northwest in late November and early December.

The worst floods drowned areas from northern Washington into British Columbia. Seattle, in addition to Vancouver and Abbotsford, British Columbia, recorded their wettest meteorological falls (September via November) with 19.04, 20.88 and 32.94 inches, respectively. Abbotsford was badly broken by flooding and landslides.


Related: Port of Vancouver ship backlog hits 60


The Port of Vancouver needed to droop rail service for not less than two weeks because of the flooding and landslides, resulting in an enormous backlog of container ships ready for a berth. Bruce Rodgers, government director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, informed American Shipper that the restoration is being hampered by the slower speeds and diminished prepare sizes that include winter operations.

“We’ve got that compounded with the additional volumes coming, so it absolutely is a challenge,” Rodgers stated. “We’re not anticipating any relief anytime soon.”

Portions of Interstate 5 and U.S. Highway 101 in Washington have been closed at instances. As of Sunday, parts of main British Columbia highways, together with the Trans-Canada Highway, remain closed or solely open for important journey.

Click right here for extra FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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