As we have reported, BNSF is experiencing extreme winter weather across the northern Plains and upper Midwest. Snow and temperatures at or below zero are presenting significant operating challenges for train and hub operations, with facilities in the Chicago area and Minnesota experiencing the most significant impacts. The region will experience even colder, likely record-breaking temperatures, during the next 48 hours.
Chicago Forecast (National Weather Service)
With wind chill temperatures expected to drop to near 50 below zero by tomorrow morning, train loading/unloading operations and customer ingate/outgate activity are expected to be significantly reduced. The impact of lower velocity across the supply chain is already creating backlogged, inbound train staging and elevated lot inventories across the system.
In order to restore normal operations as quickly and effectively as possible once weather conditions improve, it will be important to keep lot inventory levels at each facility, and across the entirety of our network, in balance. This effort will require BNSF to implement restrictions/embargoes at origin points that load to/from Chicago and St. Paul area facilities later this week.
The BNSF Sales Team will be contacting individual intermodal and automotive customers regarding gate restriction and embargo permitting plans, and possible train diversions, to help prevent inventory-related production challenges in the greater Chicago complex, as well as in St. Paul.
As conditions allow, customers are encouraged to prioritize the pick-up of units that have been unloaded at facilities. Prompt pick-up will help improve traffic flows, reduce lot congestion and provide the space needed for processing inbound shipments as quickly as possible. We also encourage drivers to download and use BNSF Railway's mobile application, RailPASS, to receive real-time notifications, instructions and inventory updates that can help speed recovery.
If you have any questions regarding your shipment(s), please contact BNSF Customer Support at 1-888-428-2673.