Obviously, there are times that adverse weather like a snowstorm can cause a small delay for your auto shipment. But can the weather have a more profound impact on auto shipping? The answer to this question is, Absolutely.
How Weather Effects Auto Shipping
Major weather events have a far-reaching impact on our lives, and auto shipping is no different. Hurricanes are an example of a significant weather event that has a tremendous effect on auto shipping. For this example, we will use hurricane Harvey that devastated parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2017.
Before the Storm
The effects to auto shipping start as soon as a significant storm of any kind is forecasted. When shipping a car long-distance or across the country odds are the carrier will not be local to either the origin or the destination. In many cases, they are located somewhere else in the country but chose to load to your origin or destination based on available car shipments. Because of this many carriers will make the decision not to load towards a region if there is the possibility of a major storm in that area. So even if the storm never occurs there may be fewer carriers than normal in the area for a period of time. This shortage of available car carriers can cause scheduling a pick up to and from the affected area to take slightly longer and may even cause auto shipping rates to increase.
During the Storm
Once a storm like Hurricane Harvey nears the coast, evacuation orders go into effect. These do not just apply to residents; auto shipping carriers are not allowed in the area of the storm either. Nor would most carriers want or even be able to load or unload during a storm of that magnitude. So while Hurricane Harvey was an active storm, there were no pickups or deliveries performed in the affected areas.
The Affected Areas
The full extent of the affected area is something that many people do not fully understand. The geographic area that will be affected for auto shipping is not limited to the immediate area of the storm. Hurricane Harvey caused substantial damage to the Houston and surrounding Gulf Coast area, but actually impacted auto shipping routes into and out of the entire state of Texas and even some routes that had nothing to do with that region of our country. When shipping a vehicle long-distance, the car carrier will likely be a large truck. This type of equipment hauls typically 8-10 vehicles per load. So as an example when a car carrier loads from somewhere like Boston headed for Houston as an example, it is common to load cars in the Boston area that go to other locations either on route or near the destination. Many times there are not enough available auto shipments all ready at the same time to load the entire truck in the city of Boston and unload all of the vehicles just in Houston. So for this route, it is very common that the car carrier has vehicles loaded on the trucking going to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio or even points along the route like New Orleans. If one of the major points on a route, like Houston, is eliminated it may no longer be possible to schedule a full load in or out of the area. So in 2017 following Hurricane Harvey, almost every route that went into or out of the southern Gulf Coast area was negatively impacted.
Obviously, areas that are flooded or attempting to rebuild after a major weather event like Hurricane Harvey are not accessible to car carriers. However, the impact is more far-reaching than just the accessibility to the area. Hurricane Harvey destroyed thousands of vehicles. The majority of these vehicles end up being resold through insurance auctions in or near the area. Although they were sold at locations in the immediate area of the storm people located all over the world purchased them. So for months after Hurricane Harvey, salvage vehicles were being shipped out of the area in much larger quantities than normal. This strain on available car carriers caused increases in rates and also slower scheduling. In fact, there were so many vehicles being shipped out of Texas that some carriers deserted their normal routes to cover the available loads. This caused scheduling and rate issues on routes that had absolutely no correlation with the storm.
Severe weather events can have far-reaching effects on auto shipping. Scheduling and rates may be affected for long periods of time and over a large geographical area. If you are in the path of a forecasted severe weather event, please evacuate the area.