Transportation’s Worst Enemy: Snow!
This year’s snow fall (thus far, at least) has been ridiculous. Storms have nearly shut down whole states. Black Ice and snow flurries have caused more than a few crashes. White outs have nearly choked all life out of supply lines.
Basically, snow is unique in how devastating it can be and how long it takes to recover from a major storm.
But so many people not associated with the transportation industry might wonder why a bit of snow could have such a massive impact on the movement of goods and services across state lines.
To sort it all out we need to identify the individual elements that a snow storm can impact.
Snow can come down in a few different ways, depending on how cold things are outside. If there is a light snow when temperatures are close to freezing, traffic will naturally melt the snow and make the roads wet.
However, if the snow continues to fall and the temperatures dip even further, the melted snow will become a layer of ice.
If local agencies work fast, they can coat the roads with salt and sand to prevent a layer of ice from developing and prevent major accidents from happening.
Even more nefarious than typical snow is freezing rain. Freezing rain often falls hard and will quickly turn roads to ice. Especially if it falls at night when the temperatures drop even further, developing black ice. This demands motorists to take more precautions and slow down to remain safe.
What can be just as dangerous as the snow on the ground is the snow that decreases visibility. White outs can occur and decrease visibility enough to not be able to see the car in front of you, or a few cars piled up and working their way out of the snow.
Getting snow and ice off the top of a truck and trailer is no easy feat. You cannot simply brush powder off the top of a trailer using a broom and there is not nearly enough room to carry a ladder in the truck to reach every inch of the trailers roof.
Removal of snow is an arduous process, usually requiring the services of a truck washing company like Blue Beacon. But even using a truck wash does not remove all the snow, nor is it using the service as intended. This can cause massive lines of Professional Truck Drivers waiting to have snow removed.
Accumulation of snow on top of trucks and trailers is incredibly dangerous. If the snow and ice is not removed promptly it can fly off of the top of the truck and injure other motorists, like what happened this last week in Pennsylvania.
Snow and ice on the top of your truck can take a long time to properly clear off your trailer and stopping after accidentally injuring someone because of ice on the top of your trailer can take up even more of your time.
Large amounts of snow and ice can also cause a truck to be vastly overweight. One square inch of snow, on average, weights about one pound. If your roof is caked in feet of snow, that can be thousands of pounds on top of your trailer, making you much too heavy to operate.
Inadequate parking precautions can also create disruptions in the supply chain. Not taking the time to pack down snow and ice or choosing to park in an ill maintained truck stop can take hours off your drive time just trying to get back onto the road.
At the end of the day, time is the name of the game. If you are late to your pick up or delivery, for whatever reason, that can cause a ripple effect in the entire supply chain.
Tardiness means that whomever is supposed to receive the goods you are carrying cannot distribute them. That means more trucks waiting around to be filled to move more goods.
Already, there are people that are stuck waiting and not making their miles, either because of weather or because they are waiting to receive a shipment to transport. Sometimes this can result in Drivers losing all available drive time by simply waiting for a shipment to arrive.
This kind of delay in products can cause a scarcity in some markets, inflating prices of essential goods and services (food, water, medicine). This is often seen after hurricanes when prices for bottled water skyrocket because of the major alteration to supply and demand.
When a major snow storm begins to wreak havoc on the country, the supply chain can be massively disrupted with some devastating results.
It is part of the reason why it is so vital to account for adjusted transit time and update everyone of your progress as you drive, so you do not inadvertently create a supply chain disruption.