Wildfires not affecting freight volumes: FTR

LOS ANGELES, CA – While some of the wild weather of 2017 had a dramatic impact on freight movements in parts of the United States, the Thomas wildfires moving through California isn’t having an impact, according to analysts at FTR Intelligence.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma affected movements in the Gulf Region of the southern U.S. during the fall, but FTR says the current fire, which has destroyed more than 270,000 acres of land triggering the evacuations of thousands, has not disrupted freight so far.

The fire is set to be the largest wildfire in the state’s history, beating out a 2003 fire near San Diego that engulfed more than 273,000 acres, says a CNN report.

The FTR report issued at the end of last week says the most recent data coming out of the southern and central California coast areas looked at the spot market dynamics in partnership with Truckstop.com, and compared them to the areas affected by the hurricanes earlier in the year.

FTR says while there are clearly disruptions to the immediate L.A Region, and drivers may need to log extra miles in order to avoid the area where the fires are localized, freight volumes seem otherwise unaffected.

Bigger than the Sonoma fires from two months ago, COO of FTR Jonathan Starks said volumes are holding up better than during that event.

“The fact that we are in the midst of the holiday and end-of-year freight season causes us to view any results with a skeptical eye,” he said.

Outbound volumes were normal for the first part of December, a trend FTR says may be due to a strong produce market, much of which lies outside the immediate L.A. area. Port activity also remains high.

On the rate side, outbound spot van rates have held up slightly better than normal for California during the early December holiday push. This is in contrast to the modest hit that outbound rates took during the Sonoma event.

As of Sunday night, the fire was only 45% contained and threatened 18,000 structures in the L.A. area. The 8,400 firefighters working in the region hope to have it contained by the end of the first week of January. Wind conditions are expected to improve this week, helping the situation greatly.

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