Hurricane Irene is expected to make landfall near Morehead City, North Carolina, on Saturday morning before powering up the east coast. Irene will likely be a borderline category 2-3 storm at that time, producing tropical conditions as far inland as I-95 in North Carolina.
Saturday during the day, Irene is expected to move up Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, reaching the New York metropolitan area late Saturday night and Sunday morning. Conditions are predicted to be unlike what many have experienced in these areas.
The American Trucking Associations urged truck drivers to avoid the storm at all costs.
"No trip, and no delivery, is worth putting yourself or others in harm's way," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
The Maryland State Highway Administration said Central and Western Maryland residents should stay on high alert as the hurricane moves up the Chesapeake Bay along the I-95 corridor. Technicians have been detailed to retime signals for maximum outbound "green time" for traffic flow for US 50, MD 404 and MD 90. For information and updates visit www.roads.maryland.gov
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has declared a state of emergency, which sets the stage for further action should it prove necessary, which could include travel restrictions on trucks. Evacuations have been ordered for Cape May, Ocean and Atlantic counties. In the event of a disaster, the New Jersey Motor Trucking Association will be organizing relief efforts with FEMA.
The most important thing truckers can do at this point is keep well informed of the storm's progress.
Sirius XM Radio announced that as Hurricane Irene approaches, it will air The Weather Channel to help those in the storm's path. Beginning August 25, The Weather Channel will air on Sirius channel 184 and XM channel 1.
In addition, SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking Radio, channel 106, will be announcing updates on highway closures and weather. Advisories with extended coverage and local updates from The Weather Channel air hourly on SiriusXM's First Traffic and Weather, channels 132 to 140.
Other outlets include:
* www.mema.state.md.us for Maryland
* The National Weather Service
Oil supply chain
While human safety is the foremost concern at this point, Hurricane Irene also presents a significant threat to the oil supply chain. The east coast is home to a large number of refineries: Those in Irene's path refine 1.358 million barrels per day.
While refineries are taking preparatory measures, there is a good chance that the national supply chain will be disrupted, causing price spikes.
Big-box stores are prepared
For nearly a week, big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot have been preparing for the storm by shipping in supplies like plywood, generators, chainsaws and even Pop-Tarts: all important items for besieged citizens.
The stores have gotten very adept at responding to these types of disasters: Home Depot has a Hurricane Command Center, which tries to predict where storms will hit and get supplies to the right places.
Wal-Mart has an on-staff meteorologist. The company did such a good job at responding to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that FEMA has begun studying how it can work with the company to provide disaster relief.