HURRICANE IRMA SHIPPING DESRUPTION

US supply chains are braced for a second shock to the system as Hurricane Irma heads for Florida, even as the US Gulf still reels from Hurricane Harvey’s impact on Texas and beyond.

Irma is being described as a potentially catastrophic Category 5 ‘superstorm’ capable of delivering lift-threatening winds of more than 180 mph (290kmh), storm surges and huge amounts of rainfall. The hurricane, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, is expected to reach Florida on Saturday after first passing over or near Barbados, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba in the coming days.

Hundreds of flights to and from Caribbean islands have already been cancelled and most commercial ports in Irma’s path are currently closed.

Although it is not yet clear where in the US Irma will make landfall, Florida has already started evacuating citizens across the state. Air, road and rail disruptions are expected to be lengthy as the state braces itself for Irma’s impact.

Terminal gates at the Port of Miami, which handled 1.03 million TEU in FY 2016, were closed for export cargoes yesterday at 3pm EST.

A customer advisory from SeaLand, Maersk Line’s intra-America’s carrier, said Port Everglades was open yesterday and would remain open today although this could change depending on how Irma developed.

Miami International Airport, a major cargo hub and a key part of American Airline’s network, said it was closely monitoring the storm and warned it would close when sustained winds reach 55 miles per hour, although many airlines were expected to cancel flights well before that point.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport said some of its flights to the Caribbean scheduled today had been cancelled.

As reported in Lloyd’s Loading List, Texas is only just starting to get back on its feet following Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, which battered the coast for much of last week before heading inland. But even as vessel loading and unloading resumes at the country’s sixth biggest box port, backlogs of cargo are expected to take weeks to clear as the state’s roads and railways take time to return to full capacity after the devastation suffered.

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