Hurricane Irma Update

Hurricane Irma,  a Category 5 hurricane with winds consistently exceeding 180 MPH, making it the strongest hurricane to ever originate in the Atlantic, made landfall in the Caribbean yesterday and is already reported to have caused 9 deaths and millions of dollars in property damage in Barbuda, St. Martin, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

As of 8 AM AST on Wednesday, September 6th, the U.S. Coast Guard began escorting vessels docked in or destined for the Caribbean to safer waters. Numerous Caribbean ports, some of which are popular transshipment ports and carrier hubs, will remain closed until further notice, so Irma is already making her presence felt in U.S. supply chains. Though the final path of Irma has not yet been solidified due to fluctuating air streams and weather patterns, early forecasts predict that Irma will make landfall in Florida as early as Saturday, September 9th. However, it is possible that a strong current could completely reroute Irma and leave the U.S. mainland protected from her monstrous reach.

Hurricane Irma follows just behind Hurricane Harvey, which devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana in late August and severely hindered numerous port operations along the Gulf Coast. Should Irma make landfall in Florida, the one-two punch of Irma and Harvey will have a crippling effect on the U.S. trucking industry and could easily cause huge price hikes for domestic freight. From an ocean cargo perspective, Irma would create heavily delayed transit, port congestion, diversion surcharges and immeasurable cargo dislocations, each of which would bear a tremendous cost to importers. If landfall occurs, operations in Miami, Port Everglades, Jacksonville and Savannah ports will all be impeded to some extent.

Shapiro will continue to monitor the situation and provide you with updates as they become available.