Retailers are already adjusting shipping schedules to prepare
Hurricane Irma has remained a Category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph as it continues its path towards the U.S. A slight eastward shift of the projected path has not changed the danger for Florida from the storm, but it has brought South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia more in play for a possible direct hit.
The National Hurricane Center says some weakening is possible, but the southeast Florida coast should be impacted by Sunday. A hurricane watch has been issued for south Florida, the Florida Keys, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Bay and will likely be expanded northward later today.
“Confidence is building for an impact on eastern Georgia and the Carolinas on Monday or early Tuesday as Irma tracks northward into the Southeast,” Riskpulse said in a Watchtower Alert. “Following landfall in Florida, a weakening Irma will remain a hurricane strength storm [and] is expected to make landfall around the GA/SC border later on Monday. Hurricane force winds will be a factor near the center where it makes landfall with tropical storm force winds extending farther out. There will likely still be a significant storm surge, although the details for this area are tough to pin down. The most widespread regional impact will be heavy rainfall, with totals on the order of 5-10 inches with locally higher totals.”
Impacts to the supply chain are already occurring, said DAT, but are expected to grow more significant in the days ahead.
Riskpulse, which provides supply chain risk analysis for shippers and carriers, digging into shipment plans and helping optimize inventory and delivery plans, says it is seeing businesses preparing.
“For example, we’re tracking over 20,000 convenience stores for a customer who needs to adjust inbound deliveries for all of their Florida stores (nearly 2,000 of them),” said Stephen Bennett, COO.
Bennett also noted how grocery chains react to a situation of an impending hurricane.
“We’re talking with the operations centers at two major grocery providers in the eastern U.S. who have an interesting management challenge,” he said. “First, they are shifting deliveries earlier than originally impacted to meet the surge of demand for milk, bread, water, canned goods etc. Within the next day or two they will shift into planning for closing stores and making sure employees and customers are safe. One of these two companies is managing demand planning, deliveries and employee safety for nearly 500 stores that will be disrupted. The second company doesn’t have any stores in the Florida storm zone but they do have about 50 vendors who are likely to go offline for at least a day or two. These guys are currently prepositioning inventory in anticipation of the milk runs to nearly 500 stores in Georgia and the Carolinas and farther up the East Coast.”