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Hot Shots: Hurricane, summer snow, container ship cluster

Highlighting images in transportation, trucking and weather

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so in social media, highlighting images in trucking, transportation and weather. This week features Hurricane Nicholas’ Texas landfall, summer snow in Alaska, cargo ships stuck off Southern California and more.

Nasty Nicholas

Hurricane Nicholas struck the Texas coast, making landfall as a Category 1 storm Tuesday near Matagorda Bay. Flooding and power outages ensued due to sustained 75-mph winds, torrential rain and several feet of storm surge. As of early Friday morning, about 50,000 customers in the impact zone still had no electricity. Winds weakened to below tropical storm strength pretty quickly as Nicholas moved inland toward Galveston Bay.

However, the rain didn’t quit. By Thursday the remnants of Nicholas were stalled across the Gulf Coast, causing flash flooding in southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, as well as western Florida. Additional periods of flash flooding are possible in these areas through Friday evening.

Summer snow

Summer doesn’t officially end until next Wednesday at 3:20 p.m. ET, but winter often starts early in some parts of the country, like in Alaska. This happened this past Wednesday when 2 to 5 inches of snow accumulated at about 4,000 feet in elevation in the Chugach Mountains around Anchorage. Matt Brettschneider, a climatologist in Alaska, told FreightWaves via Twitter that snow isn’t uncommon at this altitude by mid-September.

Measurable snow — at least one-tenth of an inch — would be a bit more unusual in Anchorage this time of the year. Brettschneider said the earliest measurable snow on record for the city, which is only about 100 feet above sea level, happened on Sept. 21, 1996.

Stuck in queue

Dozens of container ships full of freight have been anchored offshore of Southern California, some of them for 30 days or more. Most of them are waiting to berth at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. An all-time high of 61 container ships were in the queue Wednesday in San Pedro Bay, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Related: Record shattered: 61 container ships stuck waiting off California

The queue is a result of COVID-19-related disruptions, holiday-buying surges and a national labor shortage, according to a Business Insider report. Also, ocean volumes pour in from Asia and can only flow out at a certain velocity due to terminal limitations, as well as limitations of warehouses, trucking and rail beyond the terminal.

What the hail?!

Severe storms rolled through parts of the Plains earlier this week, producing large hail in Colorado the size of quarters and half dollars. But it wasn’t just the size but rather the amount that fell. It piled so high that it looked like snow in some places, like in the town of Falcon, about 15 miles east of Colorado Springs.

In addition to the hail, a wind gust of 50 mph was recorded at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, according to the National Weather Service. However, the NWS received no reports of damage from the storms.

Thank a trucker

State trucking associations, industry suppliers, law enforcement and motor carriers of all sizes from coast to coast have been showing their appreciation for truckers as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week continues. The celebrations will last through Saturday. Truck drivers work long, hard hours delivering nearly 73% of the country’s total freight tonnage, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Even cargo that arrives by planes, trains and container ships ends up on a truck at some point  before arriving at consumers’ homes. Drivers often spend a lot of time away from their families and have to move through all kinds of rough weather to get their jobs done. More information on National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is available here.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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F3: Future of Freight Festival


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.