• Approaching winter storm to impact freight movement in Northeastern United States

    07 March 2018

    For the second time in a week, a major winter storm is expected to move across Northeastern US on March 7, with heavy rain and snowfall of up to 30 centimeters expected in some areas. In anticipation of the storm, authorities have issued winter storm warnings for major metropolitan areas, including Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The winter storm is expected to intensify throughout the day.

    In the Philadelphia region, a winter storm warning is in effect until March 8 at 03:00 local time, with snowfall of up to 23 centimeters being forecast. In New York, 18 to 30 centimeters of snow could fall across the state and warnings are in effect until 04:00 local time on March 8. For the Boston area, a winter storm warning is in effect until 13:00 local time on March 8.

    As of March 7, about 1,500 flights were cancelled at New York airports, including at John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Additional flight cancellations were said to be possible later in the day. At Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), more than 300 flights and 200 flights were cancelled respectively ahead of the storm. Airports in Washington and Atlanta remain largely unaffected.

    Amtrak services will reportedly operate a modified schedule on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston as well as on services within the states of New York and Pennsylvania. The winter storm may also lead to modified shipping schedules of Class I railroads operating on the US East Coast, including Norfolk Southern and CSX.

    Marine terminals at the Port of New York and New Jersey are running normal operating hours;  tunnels and bridges were reportedly open for traffic. However, a travel ban has been issued beginning March 7 on all tractor-trailers, box trucks and other tall vehicles for the New York State Thruway north of New York City as well as for portions of interstates 81, 84, 88, 287 and 684. A driving ban is also in effect for empty straight trucks and tractors hauling empty trailers on key routes linking Pennsylvania to the New York area, including interstates 78, 80, 81, 84 and 380 since midnight on March 6.

    Driving bans, adjusted train schedules and flight cancellations may cause temporary backlogs at trucking terminals, intermodal rail yards and warehouses at northeastern airports, delaying inbound and outbound shipments in the region into the weekend. As a major freight gateway into the US, flight disruption at JFK will likely cause ripple effects across the national air cargo network. This may be exacerbated by missed cut-off times at cargo facilities for road freight shipments being hauled on key US trade lanes between Boston and New York as well as from Philadelphia to New York. Although weather conditions are set to improve from March 8 onwards, limited trucking capacity in the US could hamper a quick recovery in freight pickups and deliveries in the northeast.

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