Weekly Freight Roundup: Subzero Temps Take Their Toll

All eyes have been on the Midwest this week as cold weather chaos on the highways brought the freight network in the some Midwest markets to a standstill.

Freezing temperatures caused tightening capacity due to traffic pile-ups, gelled fuel and general hazards of being outside in such extremes. Trucks failed to start, while others ended up on the wrong side of a road closure. Even the United States Postal Service took the rare step of suspending delivery this week.

Rejections were up 16% week-over-week, helped by a 7% increase in volume. Reefer rejections have been near 20% all week, whereas the nationwide rejection rate is a mere 7.5%. This is because many shippers need to protect their commodity from the cold air.

Depending on the length of haul, and freeze point of the load (for example, beer freezes at 23 degrees fahrenheit) the shipper might request a reefer trailer for temperature control. These trailers can be used to either maintain the internal temp for a longer period of time, or even heat the interior by running the reefer units in reverse. Modern units can simply be set to maintain a temperature and the electronics will manage the details. Markets all over the Midwest have seen rejection rates for reefer trailers inflate this week, especially Monday through Wednesday so that the costs of holding the freight over the weekend can be avoided.

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Damien Hutchins
Damien Hutchins is Senior Manager of Convoy's brokerage team, when he's not writing on the state of the freight market. He has held previous roles at tech startups in various industries over the past 15 years and focuses now on logistics and trucking from his hometown of Seattle. In his free time Damien can be found exploring in the Cascade Mountains, or taking long weekend road trips on his adventure motorcycle.