Hurricane Beryl’s Impact on Logistics Operations in Houston

Hurricane Beryl’s Impact on Logistics Operations in Houston

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Hurricane Beryl made landfall in Texas early Monday morning as a Category 1 hurricane, devastating the coastal community of Matagorda, Texas — about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Houston — with winds of nearly 80 mph (130 km/h), according to a report. Followed by USA Today, updated July 10.

The storm knocked out power to more than 2.5 million homes in Texas, flooded highways and left fallen trees and other debris in its path, affecting lives, businesses and, in turn, logistics operations.

Although Beryl has since weakened to a tropical depression, its initial impact caused delays for all modes of freight transportation. Here’s what supply chain managers need to know as the storm’s remnants move north.

Maritime transport

On a DAT weekly market updatePaul Brashier, vice president of ITS Logistics, said the storm disrupted Texas ports earlier this week. Since then, several ports have reported normal operations, with recovery efforts underway, he added.

Initially, the ports of Brownsville, Corpus Christi and Galveston, which handle commodities like crude oil, closed Sunday but resumed normal operations after the storm passed Monday, Scott Hoffmann, vice president of North American surface transportation at CH Robinson Worldwide, told Supply Chain Dive in an email.

The Port of Houston was hit hardest by Beryl and remained closed Tuesday to assess damage and make necessary repairs, Hoffman said. Starting Wednesday, the port announced extended operating hours to allow for container movement.

Hoffmann added that CH Robinson brings freight to Houston from Latin America, Europe and Asia on behalf of oil and gas companies and retail customers.

The Houston Ship Channel is a 52-mile federal waterway that serves eight public terminals and more than 200 private terminals, a Port of Houston spokesperson told Supply Chain Dive in an email.

Currently, power outages and damage to facilities have had the greatest impact on port operations. The spokesperson added that the port’s eight public terminals were “coping well,” with only a slight impact on their systems.

“All eight public facilities at the Port of Houston will resume operations tonight for vessel operations and return to normal gate operations start times Wednesday morning, providing extended hours at container terminals just 2 days after the storm’s landfall, with a total closure of public terminals limited to just three days,” the spokesperson said.

Air freight

Nearly 1,700 flights were canceled Monday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), disrupting domestic air cargo, Hoffmann said in an email. Cargo hubs also closed Monday.

Based on 2023 airport dataIAH handled about 523,569 tonnes of air cargo, while HOU handled 10,559 tonnes last year.

Although en route flights delayed by the storm have since resumed, carriers are still dealing with a backlog of cargo due to the shutdown, Hoffman added.

“Many flights from abroad have already landed or are en route and should arrive as scheduled,” he said. “We were prepared to divert to other airports like Dallas or Atlanta and truck air cargo there, but that has not been necessary. Our international flight operations are pretty much back to normal.”

The last mile

WednesdayFedEx reported that Beryl caused “hazardous conditions” in southeast Texas, particularly in the Houston area, with continued delays expected for both inbound and outbound shipments in the region. FedEx listed 285 affected ZIP codes, primarily in the Houston area.

UPS, meanwhile, also confirmed in a service alert that operations in the Houston area expect delays, noting that “UPS facilities will provide pickup and delivery services as conditions permit.”

The UPS air cargo office in Houston was operating without power Tuesday, with minimal service available. UPS said operations are expected to resume Wednesday.

Truck transport

Winds, flooding and debris from the storm have reduced truckload capacity in Gulf Coast markets, particularly for van and flatbed freight, Dean Croke, principal analyst at DAT iQ, told Supply Chain Dive in an email.