The United States is on track to have a record hurricane season.
The NOAA forecasts a 65% chance of above-average weather activity for the 2022 hurricane season, with a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms, leading to 6 to 10 potential hurricanes and 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4, or 5).
Storm categories are defined as follows:
Tropical Depression: winds of up to 38 mph
Tropical Storms: winds of 39 mph or higher
Hurricanes: winds of 74 mph or higher
Major Hurricanes: winds of 111 mph or higher
While over 40% of hurricanes hit Florida, several coastal states are at risk during hurricane season. Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, New York, Mississippi, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island are among the most common states to experience hurricanes, and almost all of the hurricanes impacting Mississippi are severe.
The USGS offers a six-part series highlighting hurricane science to keep communities safe. The weekly series has already launched and will end in early July.
Impacts of hurricanes in 2021:
Last year alone, the United States experienced 4 hurricane and tropical storm events with billion-dollar losses.
- July: Tropical Storm Elsa impacted Florida
- August: Tropical Storm Fred impacted Florida
- August / September: Hurricane Ida impacted Louisiana
- September: Hurricane Nicolas impacted Texas
Communities can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to recover from large-scale disasters such as hurricanes and tropical storms.
Supply chain disruptions after a hurricane:
Capacity strains: The increase for certain commodities like groceries, construction materials, and medical equipment can cause current inventory to deplete in a matter of hours or days. Consequent capacity issues arise as suppliers, retailers, and shippers race to meet the needs of various communities.
Carrier safety: Broken roadways, collapsed structures, flooding, and uprooted trees are some of the most common hazards after a hurricane, posing a major risk to mobilized relief efforts. Carriers must take extreme precautions as they enter hazardous areas; the smallest oversight can result in massive damage to equipment, further delaying relief to those affected.
Port closures: Because hurricanes are primarily coastal disasters, there is a risk of port closures in impact areas. As primary distribution hubs for both domestic and international commodities, port damage can lead to more immense economic challenges spanning the country.
Preparing for the 2022 Hurricane Season
How can the supply chain prepare for the expected onslaught of tropical weather and severe storms?
- Increase visibility with technology.
Dozens of tech platforms are available to monitor and better predict inclement weather, informing you and making the best decisions for your company. Checking the weather regularly in your high-impact cities will change the way you do business.
- Know your business.
Understanding which hotspots will affect your business will allow you to better communicate expectations with your 3PL team and drivers and make alternative plans if necessary. Analyze past events for how your operation can adapt during similar circumstances.
- Get insurance.
Flood or hurricane insurance can help you quickly recover from damage to your supply chain assets, and business interruption coverage will cover lost sales during that time. Take the time to discover which policies are best for your organization.
- Coordinate with your partners.
Hurricane season is the perfect time to implement a strong communication line with your business partners. Let them know when you receive orders, where they are going, and when they are due to establish a regular cadence. This will be handy when disruptions cause out-of-the-ordinary changes to your patterns.
Additionally, open the conversation with your partners about their emergency plan. What is their plan for inventory, production, warehousing, etc.? Adequate preparation can decrease the ripple effect of significant disruption, allowing all parties to regulate operations faster.
Support relief efforts through FEMA
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has a mission to “build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.”
There are ten dedicated FEMA regions in the United States that respond to all domestic disasters and emergencies, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. There are many ways to contribute to relief efforts, including becoming a dedicated carrier and joining local efforts through vetted non-profit organizations.
If you’re interested in making donations, refrain from sending supplies until you’ve been informed they’re needed. Excess commodities will add work to already-strained responders.
There are several ways for those in the supply chain to prepare for disasters and assist in relief efforts nationwide.