Mother Nature took an opportunity to remind the Midwest of her wrath this last week dumping up to 12 inches of snow in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Coupled with 50+ MPH winds, the storm made travel nearly impossible with whiteout conditions and significant drifting. Portions of interstate highways in Minnesota and Iowa remained closed for up to four days as the DOT’s worked to remove snow drifts measuring more than ten-feet tall in some places.
These closures impacted, on average, more than 300,000 vehicles a day, and wreaked havoc on the transportation industry, leaving hundreds of truck drivers stranded in truck stops and off the road.
Severe weather occurrences like heavy precipitation, blizzards and high winds are estimated to cause an average of 23 percent of all trucking delays. These delays cost the industry almost $3.5 billion annually. The winter storm last weekend was not unique; more than 50 percent of annual trucking delays stem from ice and snow. While these severe weather incidents may cost transportation companies more than $100 million daily, the ripple effects become apparent to retailers and eventually consumers.
Even if long-haul trucking and last-mile delivery trucks can safely drive on roadways, there can still be unexpected situations that hurt the transportation industry. When a winter storm hit portions of South Dakota in October 2014, power was lost to over 22,000 homes and businesses. These widespread power outages caused many businesses that relied on daily shipments, such as restaurants and grocery stores, to close unexpectedly. Roads were maintained in such a way that some shipments were able to get through, only to find the businesses closed because the shipping company was not notified in enough time to cancel the shipment or re-route it to another location, causing lost profits and time for the trucking companies and their drivers.
Read more here at Forbes.com.