• Aerospace, life sciences, and technology industries at risk as Hurricane Dorian gains strength

    29 August 2019

    Following Hurricane Barry’s landfall in Louisiana six weeks ago, supply chain risk managers in Florida are now bracing for the second Atlantic hurricane of the season. As of August 29, Tropical Storm Dorian has intensified into a Category 1 hurricane after it brushed past Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands on August 28.

    On its current trajectory, Dorian is moving in north-west direction over the Atlantic waters towards the Bahamas and the state of Florida in the US with a maximum wind speed of 85 miles per hour. The weather system is expected to strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane in the next couple of days prior to making landfall in the US, possibly overnight on September 1-2. As of this writing, a state of emergency has been declared for the state of Florida and several ports along the coast are on high alert.

    While it is still early to predict Dorian’s impact, it is likely to bring strong winds and heavy rainfall that may cause widespread flooding and related damages to the aerospace, life science & health care, and technology facilities located in the state’s coastal areas.

    Past and predicted trajectory of Hurricane Dorian and associated risk incidents;
    Source: Resilience360

    Flight cancellations and port closures across Puerto Rico

    Hurricane Dorian caused limited damages on the main island of Puerto Rico but forecasters expect wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour and hurricane-associated rain of 10 inches across the country at least until the morning of August 29, with flash flood warnings in effect on the southern coast.

    Power outages and flooding were reported across Puerto Rico, with 23,000 people being without power on the afternoon of August 28. On the same day, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan canceled over 100 outbound and inbound flights ahead of Hurricane Dorian. Other Puerto Rican airports, including Antonio Rivera Rodriguez and Luis Munoz Marin International airports, also limited flight operations. In the US Virgin Islands, Cyril E King Airport was closed while Henry E Rohlsen International Airport reduced flights as well. Around 25,000 people were also temporarily affected by power outages across the US Virgin Islands.

    The Puerto Rican Coast Guard issued ‘Port Condition Zulu’ at 01:00 (local time) on August 28, which means ports in Saint Croix of the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico will be closed to all commercial inbound and outbound vessel traffic as gale force winds are expected within 12 hours. The ports will remain closed until the storm is cleared, followed by an assessment.

    In light of this, freight forwarding company YRC Freight temporarily closed its trucking terminal in San Juan. The brief closure is likely to have an impact on supply chains as 90 percent of inbound goods to Puerto Rico come via ocean freight. While there are no reports of infrastructural damages in Puerto Rico, there is potential for berthing time and cargo loading delays due to adverse weather conditions following Hurricane Dorian’s passage.

    Florida braces for impact

    A state of emergency has been declared in Florida on August 28; while it is still too early to predict Hurricane Dorian’s impact, current forecasts project that it will make landfall anywhere between South Florida and the State of South Carolina. Some reports also suggested that it may make landfall near Orlando, Florida. ‘Port Condition Whiskey’, where gale force winds are expected to arrive at the port within 72 hours, have been set at the Ports of Fort Pierce, Miami, Everglades, and Palm Beach as the state braces for the potential impact of the powerful storm.

    Although no production halts have been reported as of this writing, industries such as aerospace & aviation, life sciences, and technology located along the coastal area may experience disruption to operations as the hurricane approaches. Florida is one of the largest marketplaces for aerospace and aviation with two active spaceports and houses more than 2,000 air and space flight-related private firms. The state also has a large presence of technology, life sciences, and biotechnology industries: there are about 260 biotech companies and over 220 pharmaceutical & medicine manufacturing companies situated in Florida. The US Food and Drug Administration also ranks Florida second amongst states for registered medical device manufacturing sites located along the Interstate-4 Corridor in Northeastern, Central, and Southern Florida.

    Technology, life sciences & healthcare, and aerospace facilities in Florida and South Carolina;
    Source: Resilience360

    The National Hurricane Centre predicts that Florida may receive up to 10 inches of rain or higher later in the week and possibly until the weekend of Aug 31 – Sept 1 if the hurricane follows its current projected path. Nevertheless, as storms have the tendency to change their path and intensity, customers are advised to be on standby with hurricane preparedness plans to mitigate disruptions to logistics and manufacturing operations. As part of a proactive approach, identifying key suppliers in the projected path of the storm and stocking up essential materials can help organizations react faster to disasters and avoid production outages. Customers are advised to monitor further developments on Resilience360.

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