A potentially disruptive snowstorm could impact freight flows and supply chains next week in the Northeast. This may include major population centers along the Interstate 95 corridor.
The storm will probably move through the region next Wednesday and into Thursday. It’s worth noting that computer models are indicating that this will be a major winter storm. However, since the storm is five to six days away — a pretty long time in the forecasting world — this outlook is preliminary. It’s a tap on the shoulder for carriers and their drivers, as well as shippers and brokers, to keep a close eye on the situation as the forecast evolves.
It looks like very cold air, a strong low-pressure system and plenty of Atlantic moisture could produce very heavy snowfall and gusty winds from the mid-Atlantic to New England. Indications are that a band of heavy snow will fall across the region, with widespread accumulations of 6 to 10 inches. Some locations may get 12 to 18 inches, especially in the high elevations of upstate New York and interior New England.
Winds could also become a major issue with the storm, with blowing snow creating periods of whiteout conditions. Substantial delays in ground and air transportation will be possible due to the combination of snow and wind.
As of Friday morning, major cities in the potential impact zone include Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Significant freight markets that may get hit hard are Elizabeth, New Jersey; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; as well as Buffalo, New York. These are circled on the map below.
This map is the FreightWaves SONAR Headhaul Index (HAUL), which measures the difference between the level of outbound and inbound freight volume available in each of the 135 markets. Dark blue areas show where the most freight is available, places where carriers are most likely to send their drivers. Markets in dark red indicate loose capacity, where a lot of trucks are likely available but not many outbound loads. These drivers may be heading to the nearby “blue” markets to pick up freight in the coming days, hopefully before the snowstorm kicks in next week.
This is an evolving situation and the forecast will probably change. Please look for updates over the next few days on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.