The one-two punch of hurricanes Harvey and Irma is forcing supply chain managers to re-route their cargoes across the U.S., according to information tracked by DAT Solutions, and is also leading to a spike in spot load freight rates.
The load board operator noted that, following Hurricane Harvey, some shippers began to supply markets ordinarily served by Houston from regional hubs in the Southeast, including: Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; and Memphis, TN.
When Hurricane Irma began its assault on Florida, those same distribution centers then re-focused and moved goods south instead of west, DAT said in its analysis of these “emergency” short-term freight trends.
Meanwhile, the Midwest had to supply the Northeast to compensate for the freight that would otherwise arrive from Atlanta, the company noted, with Midwestern warehouses called on to supply Colorado – a state typically served by Houston distribution centers.
DAT added that the number of loads on the spot truckload freight market fell 3% during the week ending Sept. – a time period that encompassed the Labor Day holiday as well as the supply chain disruptions caused by two hurricanes.
Truckload capacity tightened further, with truck posts down 15% compared to the previous week, DAT said – adding that a 20% reduction is typical for a holiday week.
As a result, dry van and flatbed load-to-truck (L/T) ratios increased:
- Dry van L/T ratio: 6.6 (up 17%)
- Flatbed L/T ratio: 34.4 (up 29%)
- Reefer L/T ratio: 11.3 (down 2%)
Diesel prices continued to climb as well, DAT noted, jumping four cents to $2.80 per gallon as a national average. Higher fuel prices also put upward pressure on spot rates compared to the previous week, too, the firm said:
- Dry van: $1.93 per mile, up 3 cents
- Flatbed: $2.24 per mile, up 4 cents
- Reefer: $2.18 per mile, up 8 cents
Nationally, van load posts declined 3% and truck posts lost 17%, DAT said, though Houston freight levels bounced back to 88% from where they were before Hurricane Harvey hit – what the firm dubbed “a remarkable achievement” considering that the rebound happened during a four-day holiday week.
Reefer load posts declined 10% and truck posts fell 8% compared to the previous week, DAT added, with outbound reefer rates in Atlanta rising six cents to an average of $2.46 per mile as freight hubs in the Southeast helped to re-stock markets in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma that are usually served out of Houston.
In Dallas, demand for reefer trucks led to a 19-cent increase to an average of $2.26/mile outbound, the company noted.
Flatbed load posts increased 4% nationally due in part to the need to move relief supplies and heavy equipment in Houston and Louisiana., DAT noted, and as a result, available capacity fell 20%—in line with expectations given the holiday week and the unusual pressures on the supply chain.