By Stephen Hamilton, Managing Director, CLX Logistics
Blame Mother Nature. Severe weather conditions over the past two months are causing significant network transportation obstructions across the country. We are seeing a combination of scenarios where trucks are rerouted onto back roads until interstates are plowed, drivers are spending days in truck stops waiting for highways to reopen and accidents are causing significant delays and even closures on major roadways. Many of our carriers are advising their truckers to take caution as icy road conditions and blowing snow cause major accidents across the region. All this adds up to major transportation delays and backlogs.
Recent notices from our carriers have informed us that road closures in Iowa and Minnesota are detaining crews from getting to trains, while blowing snow and extreme cold temperatures in the Chicago area have affected carrier’s ability to process cars in terminals and interchange operations with foreign carriers. More locally, transportation routes along the I-95 corridor from Baltimore to the North East are significantly impacted by subzero temperatures, high winds and blowing snow.
While most of the weather is focused in the Midwest and Northeast corridor of the United States, transportation interruptions are causing problems across the country. Railroads have pushed trains out of the Midwest to avoid weather issues which, in turn, caused an overload of railcars on the West Coast. In addition, conditions are playing havoc with the tracks themselves, causing several service interruptions including train derailments.
When I talked with Rich Jousma, president of First Choice Logistics, one of our carriers specializing in bulk liquid chemicals in the Midwest, he told me that continuous bad weather is causing some of the worst transportation problems and driving conditions he has experienced in his 25 year professional career.
Based in Chicago, one winter storm after the other has slowed his fleet over the past three weeks. Rich said that in a typical storm, the weather typically gets warmer the next day and things smooth out in a day or so. This year, Interstate 65, which is one of his major travel routes, had been shut down for days as snow crews cleared the roadways. Most recently, a major accident on I-94 near Michigan City involving 12 or 13 trailers closed the eastbound lanes for more than a day. With so many road closures, he can’t keep up with delivery schedules.
Rich pointed out that the problem at this point is not capacity but weather causing havoc with transportation schedules. Carriers are doing the best they can in these situations and continue to inform customers of freight situations.
As crews restore operations and backlog is alleviated, customers are asked to remain patient until transportation networks become unclogged and back on track. We appreciate your understanding in this matter. Stay tuned to your carrier service alerts and call your assigned customer service rep if you have any questions.