Hurricane Joaquin has a bigger reach than most people realize
The East Coast is getting ready to batten down the hatches as Hurricane Joaquin leaves the Bahamas and heads north. As of the time of this post, Joaquin is just a category 3 storm and will likely increase in strength to a category 4.
General news is certainly focused on the flooding, the safety of people along the coast and what people need to do to be prepared. But for the logistics world, the affects are already showing up, and will continue well through next week.
This starts with the diversion of ships within areas around Florida through the Gulf Steam, which serves as a key shipping lane choke point between the Panama Canal, the East Coast and Europe. As the hurricane continues on its northerly course, regardless of whether it makes landfall or not, ships all across the East Coast and North Atlantic will need to avoid the storm so they can protect their cargo. Those diversions will likely cause delays in port arrivals and shipments.
Marine terminals along the East Coast also have to face the risks of this hurricane by making a number of storm preparations that are necessary to protect terminal equipment ranging from the massive quay cranes to the stacks of containers to ensure they are not blown over by the wind. Yes, winds can be strong enough to blow over containers and cranes, as they did at the Jacksonville Port in 2008. Those preparations certainly cost terminals money and time, but they also cost truckers and shippers additional time as well.
The end result of this is that regardless of what happens next with Hurricane Joaquin, the logistics world is already seeing an impact. As a consumer, if you aren't affected by delays for your goods, it's because there is a whole world of people working hard to make sure cargo keeps moving.