Nor’easter continues to slam key freight markets

FedEx truck heading down snowy Pennsylvania highway with traffic behind it.

Heavy snowfall and strong winds will delay freight flows in the Northeast this week. The impact zone includes key freight markets in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Major cities and supply chain hubs within this densely populated zone include New York City; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Hartford, Connecticut; and Boston. Potential road closures are possible on several major interstates, including I-95, I-84, I-81, I-80, I-76 and I-70.

The storm started Sunday and will impact tens of millions of people along with thousands of miles of key interstates. The effects of the storm’s timing — at the beginning of the week and the start of a new month — may reverberate across other parts of North America and the world, as far as logistics is concerned. This will be the strongest Northeast storm of the season.

Snowfall totals through Tuesday of 6 to 12 inches will be common, with some areas in the core of the storm receiving up to 20 inches. Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph will produce blowing snow and occasional whiteout conditions. Gusts above 60 mph or higher could slam some places along and just off the coast, causing coastal flooding. Scattered power outages are also possible across the storm’s impact zone.

The winds alone will cause major port disruptions and potential port closures along the East Coast. Additionally, bridges could be shut down at times, especially for high-profile vehicles like tractor-trailers. Air cargo may also be delayed due to potential flight cancellations.

Key freight markets that will be difficult for truckers to enter include Harrisburg and Allentown, Pennsylvania, in addition to Elizabrth, New Jersey. They rank in the top 10 markets with the highest outbound volume tenders — the amount of loads offered by shippers to carriers.

SONAR ticker: OTMS tree map

According to the FreightWaves SONAR Outbound Tender Market Share (OTMS), those three markets account for 8.5% of the nation’s outbound volume. This is represented by the chart directly above in which the Harrisburg, Allentown and Elizabeth markets are circled. The bottom number is each location’s market share. These are areas where a lot of freight is available, but the storm could keep many drivers from getting there the next couple of days.

Heavy snowfall could return to the Northeast by Friday, after hitting the Cascades, Sierra Nevada and northern Rockies Tuesday and Wednesday as well as the Midwest Thursday.

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