- The governors of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina have suspended Hours of Service (HOS) requirements and weight regulations for trucks, as the states brace for Hurricane Florence, CCJ reported.
- "Vehicles engaging in debris removal, bearing equipment and supplies for utility restoration, and carrying essentials are exempt from certain size and weight registration requirements," an executive order issued by North Carolina governor Roy Cooper stated.
- While Florida isn't expected to be impacted by Florence, the Florida Department of Transportation is authorizing supply vehicles to bypass weigh stations "to support our neighbors," Governor Rick Scott said in a tweet.
As residents hunker down and businesses shut their doors in the calm before the storm, transportation departments along the eastern seaboard are bustling with activity, loading trucks with emergency supplies in preparation for what's likely to be a major storm.
How NCDOT's preparing for #Florence: 2,166 employees on-hand with 1,284 trucks, 1,086 chain saws, 147 front loaders, 219 motor graders and 202 backhoes; also 2,877 barricades, 1,488 road-closed signs and 2,853 high water signs. Latest info at https://t.co/5L2barcAqc #ncwx pic.twitter.com/o4S3ImIGoH— NCDOT (@NCDOT) September 10, 2018
With HOS requirements suspended, carriers can quickly move necessary emergency supplies to at-risk areas ahead of the hurricane. They can also transport equipment to warehouses or storage facilities on higher ground, mitigating damage that could result from heavy rainfall and high winds.
Regular truck shipments of e-commerce orders take a back seat, as trucks are used primarily for emergency services. The shift in priority can create "significant pressure on capacity," Freight Waves reported, subsequently driving up spot rates in an already crunched market.
The timing of Florence also arrives as peak shipping season gears up and more shippers are looking to transport their goods. Imports have also surged ahead of tariffs being implemented, creating further demand for trucking services.
Hurricanes pose great risk to supply chains, often bringing the movement of goods to a stop altogether. The silver lining is, the storms tend to be predictable, especially compared to other natural disasters such as earthquakes or wildfires. With adequate planning, many businesses can reposition their inventory at other store locations or warehouses and stock up on emergency items that may be needed after the hurricane comes through.
Early Tuesday morning, Florence was a Category 4 hurricane, with wind speeds of 130 mph. The National Hurricane Center warned of "life-threatening" storm surges and flooding from South Carolina to the mid-Atlantic. Florence is projected to reach the East Coast late Thursday night to early Friday morning.