Extreme weather causes shipping delays and disrupts shipment planning, not only in the affected area, but also with a ripple effect that can extend throughout the country. Extremely cold temperatures, floods, hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, tornadoes and other weather events are a fact of life, but there are steps you can take to protect your items and keep your LTL (less-than-truckload) shipment on schedule.
How Weather Affects Freight Shippers
Extreme weather disrupts freight shipping in all sorts of ways. First and foremost, weather events can cause accidents on the road, compromising the safety of drivers and the integrity of their cargos. To avoid these risks, freight companies are often forced to keep their vehicles off the road and wait out the storm.
This necessary step causes delays up and down the supply chain, affecting shipments in and out of the affected geography. Some types of weather situations, such as floods, can cause delays lasting months. When this happens, commercial shippers must find alternate means of delivery (anything from air freight to bicycles) in order to stay in business. All of these delays and increased costs can have a substantial impact on local and national economies.
Here are three ways you can reduce your exposure to shipping delays and damage:
1. Expect the Expected
Certain extreme weather events take everyone by surprise, but not all. If you live in Minnesota, you can be fairly certain that extreme cold could come into play and cause shipping delays — knowing this, it is prudent to plan ahead and make your shipment during summer months rather than the dead of winter, if possible. Similarly, Floridians can plan shipments around hurricane season, while Californians have indications when fire danger is high, etc.
2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Freight shipments with flexible pickup and delivery dates help you and your LTL carrier work around weather delays economically. If your weather-impacted shipment absolutely, positively has to be there by next Tuesday, your carrier may be able to pull it off, but at a cost, and possibly by exposing your item to additional risk of damage. But if your carrier has wiggle room in the schedule, you can avoid emergency upcharges and make product damage much less of a worry.
3. Prep Prudently
If you are shipping a product in the dead of winter, wrap it in an insulating material (e.g., flexible polypropylene foam) or place it in a thermal container. If the truck should break down in a blizzard, you’ll give yourself another layer of protection. At the other extreme, thermal containers and breathable packaging (e.g., open-cell cushioning foam or boxes with air holes) make sense for shipments coming during a heat wave.
Weather the Storm
It's easy to feel discouraged by delays from bad weather conditions, especially when there isn't much you can do to speed up the process—you can't control the weather after all. But keep in mind that a little bit of preparation can help your shipment arrive as safely and swiftly as possible.
Do you have questions about shipping in stormy weather? Call our moving experts at 877-677-1571 for advice, options, and a free estimate.