It’s the holiday season and the skies aren’t hesitating to remind us that things are about to get very, very cold! Supply chains everywhere are getting ready for the impact.
A winter outlook published by The Weather Company has mixed reviews. It revealed that regions from southwest Oregon into California, the Great Basin, Desert Southwest and southwestern Texas are forecasted to have warmer than average temperatures during the holiday season stretching from December to February. Unfortunately, northeastern North Dakota into northern Minnesota, far northwestern Wisconsin, and the far western Upper Peninsula of Michigan aren’t as lucky. Temperatures in these regions are projected to be near or below average from December to February.
In the midst of the first set of snowstorms, it’s important to consider how these long-term weather conditions are going to impact supply chains nationwide. Low temperatures are frequently paired with snowstorms, black ice and harsh winds – none of which are good for transportation. Regardless of delivery date guarantees, weather can be unpredictable and roads quickly become hazardous. At one point or another, every shipping company experiences delays.
Adverse Winter Weather in 2018
Container terminals at the ports of Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey faced the consequences of severe storms in March of 2018. Weather forecasts of the storm estimated three inches of snow in New Jersey and up to two feet in certain parts of New Jersey. The four main terminals of the ports were closed for nearly four hours.
The southern region of the U.S. dealt with over 500 car crashes as a result of a harsh winter storm in December of 2018. Snow was falling at a pace too rapid for cleaning crews to keep up with and impairing the vision of drivers. Black ice dominated the roads and citizens were urged to stay home for safety. Drivers who neglected the warning were continuously skidding out of control in whiteout conditions. The storm left 385,000 people residing in southern states without power.
Needless to say, all of these barriers stemming from harsh weather conditions pose a challenge to supply chains. Below are a few ways to stay ahead of unexpected winter weather:
Identify if You are in an Area At-Risk of Dangerous Weather Impacts
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to recognize that snow affects each region differently. Be conscious of where the base of your operations is and how severe winter weather tends to be in your area. Simply knowing that you are in an area that receives a substantial amount of snow is the first step in preparing for a safer winter.
Gain Visibility Throughout Your Supply Chain
Visibility across each aspect of your supply chain instantly provides an opportunity to be better-prepared. Being able to track your orders and access real-time information about the location of your shipment is crucial for successful communication with customers. Ease frustrations in the midst of weather delays with accurate information about when shipments can be expected and ensure operations are running smoothly.
Learn from the Past to Prepare for the Future
Collecting and organizing data and analytics are an essential part of growing as a business. It’s important to take stock of how well your business operated in such severe weather conditions in previous years. Taking note of how long it took your shipments to reach their destination and the overall cost and efficiency of transportation makes it easier to identify things that could be done better upon the arrival of the next storm.