UPDATE: May 21, 2020: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there is a 60% chance the 2020 hurricane season will have "above-normal" activity, according to a press release from the agency. It expects 13 to 19 named storms, of which six to 10 would become hurricanes.
"As Americans focus their attention on a safe and healthy reopening of our country, it remains critically important that we also remember to make the necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
- Experts expect an increased risk of tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean this hurricane season and decreased risk in the Pacific Ocean, according to a report from Resilience360 and Riskpulse. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will announce its outlook for the season on Thursday.
- According to the report, the ports with the most risk during the upcoming hurricane season include facilities in New Orleans; Houston; Mobile, Alabama; Savannah, Georgia; and Jacksonville, Florida.
- "Due to the severity of the hurricanes, the ports in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the east coast of the U.S. usually suspend cargo operations for an average of 9 days while the ports in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean normally close for an average of 1-3 days and 1-2 days respectively," the report noted.
As hurricane season approaches, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic adds another variable for supply chain managers to consider when navigating what can already be a disruptive period.
Cargo volume slid at ports across the country in April, and ocean carriers have responded to the lack of demand by canceling a record number of sailings. Cancelations can complicate freight movement for shippers still moving inventory over the ocean.
Ports have also responded to the volume drop with changes to operations. The Port of Savannah closed its gates to truckers on Saturdays throughout April.
"The reduction in trucking hours is expected to have a knock-on effect in cargo movement in the coming months and as the hurricane season in North America normally peaks in August, any inclement weather may further hamper the port’s cargo volumes," the report reads.
Hurricanes can also disrupt airfreight as a result of airport closures and flight path alterations. The report lists Miami International, Orlando International, Charleston International, Dallas/Fort Worth International and Luis Muñoz Marín International as most at risk to storm delays. The pandemic has already strained freight movement through these airports as passenger airlines cancel flights, many of which typically carry belly cargo. Charleston International is operating at 5% of its normal capacity, the report said.
Aspects outside the logistics part of the supply chain are also at risk during hurricane season. Florida's manufacturing sector, which includes industries ranging from medical device manufacturers to engineering suppliers, could face disruption when storms land, Resilience360 noted in last year's hurricane report. Manufacturing facilities across Florida began reopening Monday following state-mandated closures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Companies that want to better understand their risk should map their assets to know what could be affected when a storm hits, according to the report. "Organizations are advised to consider planning inventory in diverse locations to minimize the risk of not being able to quickly access or ship the inventory when needed," it stated.
Last year, Hurricane Dorian disrupted parcel carriers and closed ports across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) responded by suspending hours of services regulations across multiple states.