Navigating the Storm: Preparing for the 2024 Hurricane Season 

image of hurricane

The 2024 hurricane season is upon us, and it’s predicted to be an above-normal one. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts 17-25 named storms, with 8-13 likely to turn into hurricanes. Of these, 4-7 are projected to be Category 3 or above. This heightened activity is partly due to La Niña conditions in the Pacific, which create variable jet streams that result in drier and warmer conditions, near-record high ocean temperatures, and reduced Atlantic trade winds. With the first hurricane of the season, Beryl, reaching a category 5, these predictions are already coming to fruition.  

Hurricanes can be devastating, causing lost homes, major infrastructure damage, and flooding. They also significantly impact supply chains, disrupting trucking and ocean container operations. For instance, past hurricanes like Ida, Ian, and Idalia have shown significant impacts on truckload on-time performance and ocean container dwell time. 

During Hurricane Ida, truckload on-time performance fell by 20%, with only 60% of loads arriving on time. Similarly, during Hurricane Ian, there was a 5% reduction in service level, but a rapid recovery was made within a week. Hurricane Idalia caused a more prolonged impact, lasting about two weeks and resulting in a 7% reduction in service levels. 

Ocean container operations were also affected. During Hurricane Ida, export dwell increased by 65% from 8 days to 14 days, while import dwell saw a 380% increase from 5 days to 24 days. Hurricane Ian had a lower impact on import dwell, but export dwell saw a 200% increase from 4 days to 12. Hurricane Idalia caused a prolonged impact on export dwell, with three consecutive weeks at 8.5 days of dwell, a 183% increase. 

Given these potential disruptions, businesses need to prepare thoroughly for the hurricane season. Effective strategies include diversifying carrier networks, maintaining emergency safety stock, and staying informed about storm developments. 

Carrier diversification can help navigate crises effectively. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, shippers faced capacity issues, leading to an increase in the number of carriers used. Recent trends have shown a decrease in carrier diversification, but it’s advisable for shippers in high-risk areas like Florida and Louisiana to maintain a diverse carrier network. 

Maintaining emergency safety stock in hurricane-prone locations is also wise. Proactively supplying emergency safety stock, focusing on immediate needs such as generators, water, first aid, and shelf-stable food supplies, allows companies to focus on secondary supplies and hurricane relief and rebuilding rather than scrambling for bare necessities. 

Staying informed about tropical storm warnings and continuously monitoring conditions is crucial. Proactively ship additional inventory to potentially affected locations if a storm escalates. Monitor the aftermath of hurricanes as well, as certain routes may require detours due to damage or flooding. project44 customers can view impacted shipments directly on the Movement homepage.  

The 2024 hurricane season is predicted to be above normal, with an increased risk of major storms. By learning from historical data and implementing best practices, businesses can enhance their resilience and be better equipped to weather the storm.