Today’s Pickup: Panama City braces for Hurricane Michael

Club La Vela in Panama City Beach. ( Photo: Club La Vela )

Good day,

Hurricane Michael, just hours from making landfall near Panama City, Florida, has strengthened to a Category 4 storm. Michael’s winds are in excess of 145 mph, and meteorologists are calling for an extremely dangerous 12 to 15 foot storm surge. In the past two days, FreightWaves has seen rapidly intensifying local freight movements in the Savannah market that are likely related to FEMA disaster relief staging. 

It’s hard to overstate the impact Michael will have on the Florida panhandle: we have no records of a Category 4 storm making landfall in that region. The alarming, rapid intensification left many residents unprepared, as forecasts shifted from a strong Cat 1 to a Cat 4 in 24-36 hours. Regional freight markets have been quiet so far, but expect disruption in the storm’s aftermath as surging volumes collide with unavailable capacity. 

Did you know?

The 2018 fiscal year saw Long Beach handle just over 8 million TEUs, representing a 10.7% increase year-on-year. 


“The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone. First responders will not be able to come out in the middle of the storm. If you chose to stay in an evacuation zone, you must SEEK REFUGE IMMEDIATELY.”

-Florida Gov. Rick Scott, tweeting about Hurricane Michael

In other news:

Anger in Europe as state subsidies for South Korean carrier HMM soar

State-owned Korea Ocean Business Corporation (KOBC) has, reportedly, signed off on some W6.15trn ($5.4bn) of new funding for the country’s biggest ocean carrier, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) – but much of this cash will be needed to cover continued operations. (The LoadStar)

Cowen on CP: “No skepticism in a post-Hunter world”

“We are encouraged by CP’s opportunities in intermodal and grain, and believe that increased free cash flow will give management the option to raise the dividend or pay down high yielding debt. We raise our price target to $236,” wrote Jason Seidl. (Railway Age)

Sears tumbles on report of possible bankruptcy filing

Debt-laden retailer’s shares plunge 19.7% to $0.47 premarket; set to open at a record low after report of possible bankruptcy filing. (Reuters)

Hurricane Michael poised to be strongest storm to hit U.S. in 14 years

Hurricane Michael, with winds strengthening to 140 miles an hour, is poised to be the strongest storm to hit the continental U.S. since 2004, with a life-threatening surge and the potential to cause $16 billion in damage. (Bloomberg)

Retailers rush to fill holiday hole left by  Toys ‘R’ Us

The collapse of Toys “R” Us Inc. has its rivals fighting over billions of dollars in holiday toy sales now up for grabs, and is also likely to make it harder for last-minute shoppers to get their hands on some of the year’s hottest items. (Wall Street Journal)

Final Thought:

Nationally, volumes continue to soften after the end of the third quarter. The truckload spot market has been flat; there have been no major disruptions in local markets since Hurricane Florence hit the Wilmington area. Memphis is still a strong headhaul market and Los Angeles outbound volumes have remained elevated, even compared to previous highs in June. Atlanta volumes are the lowest they’ve been all year.

Hammer down everyone!


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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.