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Disruption & Delay as Winter Storm Octavia Hits the South

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As a result of ongoing severe weather conditions, both FedEx and UPS have warned customers to expect delivery delays today. Winter storm Octavia passed through the southern states overnight with a less overt warning than previous weather events, delivering around one foot of snow and severe icy conditions, the like of which the region has not seen for some twenty years.

Anyone who reads our blog regularly will know that we had cause to pull out the shovels on several occasions last year, and it looks like the nation is getting an unwanted share of this experience. From the East coast blizzard in late January to Octavia's less hyped but no less disruptive impact this week, most areas of the U.S. have been forced to figure out what to do when winter steps in on their supply chain.

truck stuck in snow
Digging out in New Jersey last year. Around the country, this winter has been just as challenging.

For the country's two major delivery services, the impact was immediate and widespread.

FedEx reported that it experienced "substantial sort disruptions" at its Memphis, TN hub overnight, resulting in uncertainty over whether delivery commitments for the day will make their deadlines.

UPS made a similar announcement regarding its main service center in Louisville, KY. The statement goes on to tell customers that they are working hard to move shipments to their final destinations today, but that some may experience unavoidable delays that are not covered by the company's service guarantee.

It followed up this afternoon with details of the most affected areas:

"Severe winter weather is impacting service in areas of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, including locations in Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. There will be no pickups or deliveries today in the affected areas." --Brown Bulletin, 2/17/15

As of Tuesday morning the East coast was being impacted by winter storm Octavia, with difficult driving conditions and a winter weather advisory in effect until noon. Conditions are expected to clear as the week continues, leaving delivery services to play catch up on shipments that didn't make it out.

If your customers are expecting deliveries this week, the key to keeping them as happy as possible is communication. Most of us understand that severe weather is unavoidable and delays will happen. What they accept less is not knowing what's happening, which is where your service team can step in to help track packages and reset expectations for revised delivery times.

Part of keeping your communications responsive is knowing what's going on around the supply chain in the first place. For more frequent email updates on this and other industry news, or to enable another contact to receive these updates, click here to sign up. Stay safe... and warm!