Providing warnings that a Texas Coastal port will be closing its gates due to severe weather

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by Mike Murphy, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. tarmadilo

    tarmadilo Heavy Load Member

    Dec 12, 2018
    I often drive across I-10 from Louisiana through Houston and then down US 59 to Laredo, and I do pickup loads at Port Arthur and Beaumont. I can get far from the coast with 12 hours of warning, if traffic isn’t a nightmare I can do it with considerably less.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I would love an easy link to a warnings page I could just click on and see the current threat level, maybe with forecasts for the next week.
    tscottme Thanks this.
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  3. Dave_in_AZ

    Dave_in_AZ Road Train Member

    May 4, 2015
    How much money is involved? Do I have any other options or is this the only load available?

    Case in point-

    Two years ago when the ( 5th? ) largest hurricane ever recorded was headed up the east coast of Florida I was in Chicago.

    My load canceled. There was a load available from a really nice agent to Florida that paid A LOT. First stop.....Melbourne.

    Where was monster hurricane headed? Melbourne.

    So given the option of sitting in Chicago for nar 3 days or doing battle with a monster hurricane, I chose the hurricane.

    Got on down there stopped. Moved up the coast and went and attacked our corporate headquarters. Which I thought was most awesome, and I still thank God for all the time.

    Drivers with any sense, and we're getting fewer all the time, will make it through severe situations.

    Information is power though.
    JoeyJunk, tscottme and PacoTaco Thank this.
  4. RockinChair

    RockinChair Road Train Member

    [QUOTE="Mike Murphy, post: 11495381, member: - Dallas is about 230 miles north of Houston (+/-) on IH 45. So 300 miles would be just south of the Oklahoma / Texas border. Austin is roughly 170 miles north-west of Houston on US 290 ---- then a straight shot north on IH 35 to either Fort Worth or Dallas. San Antonio is about 200 miles west of Houston on IH 10 - so 300 miles would be getting into the rural western part of Texas around Junction. The Texas / Louisiana border is about 100 miles east of Houston on IH 10. Thus it looks like TxDOT could cover the bases north, and west ---- but not 300 miles to the east within the state's jurisdiction. [/QUOTE]

    Considering the approach path of most hurricanes, and considering that hurricanes can easily deviate from the spaghetti models, if a storm was anticipated to hit Houston I would not want to travel any portion of I-10 east of Houston regardless of state lines.

    And to your point regarding mileage, perhaps 150 to 200 would have been a better radius. Also, a lot of containers travel between the Ports of Houston and those at Laredo and Brownsville, so a corridor focus would likely increase the overall effectiveness of the campaign.
  5. PacoTaco

    PacoTaco Light Load Member

    Apr 16, 2016
    South Texas
    And that's the problem - due to ignorance and/or lack of English language skills some drivers won't stop until it's too late no matter how much information is available to them.
  6. SteelCityGrinder

    SteelCityGrinder Bobtail Member

    Nov 9, 2020
    We just transported a car to Freeport. We run out of Pennsylvania. The route my driver was taking was (3) three days drive time. Once the truck is loaded it is stuck until the load comes off. I now realize i have to watch weather. One driver in a port the other in hurricane area.
  7. Six9GS

    Six9GS Heavy Load Member

    Dec 3, 2012
    Yuma, AZ
    I-80 along Wyoming is infamous for high wind situations. They have numerous truck parking lots for such situations. Also, on Wyoming's DOT website, they have a very good road status section and a driver can easily find out potential road hazards along different stretches of Interstate or Highway.
    I suggest you contact States like Wyoming and Nebraska and gain insight on how they handle adverse weather stuff. Seems to me you don't need to invent the wheel from scratch. Other States have similar enough situations and can learn much from them about what actually works and what doesn't.
    My 2 cents at least!
  8. Mike Murphy

    Mike Murphy Bobtail Member

    Apr 28, 2014
    I very much appreciate all of the excellent discussion about how to communicate emergency messages to truckers while on the road regarding severe weather. I agree that there is likely not a 'one size fits all' solution - likely what is needed is a set of solutions which the port / state agencies would implement based on the circumstances.

    Regarding 'Qualcomm' mentioned by NavigatorWife, I've visited their website and will make a few comments regarding 5G cellular, based on our current knowledge of communications technologies for Road Side Units (RSU) with regard to Infrastructure to Vehicle communications (V2i). RSUs are the technology that state agencies are / will be implementing to communicate information from infrastructure (bridges, roadway, traffic signals, signs, traffic conditions, crash locations etc.) directly to travelers vehicles.

    1) The US (or EU / Asia) 5G cellular will require significant investment to build out a network large enough to support the traveling public across the nation. China has already taken a bold step and plans to implement a network of 10 million 5G cellular towers to provide nationwide coverage - however this will take years to complete.

    It is our understanding that 5G companies are focusing heavily on the autonomous vehicle industry as customers (the vehicle, not the driver's cell phone) - in particular the infotainment systems in autonomous vehicles which can benefit significantly from the high download rate offered by 5G (1 gigabit / s) to download movies, games and other large files. However, the tower to tower transmission distance of 5G is much shorter than 4G so much more expensive --- this means a lot more towers and $$$. Also, 5G cellular is millimeter wavelength and there are health concerns that have not yet been addressed regarding 5G transmissions passing through humans. Cellular customers alone who have smart phones won't provide the customer base 5G companies need as stated - that's one of the reasons autonomous vehicles including autonomous trucks are front and center..........this is what I immediately thought when I heard Qualcomm = 5G.

    If you have different opinions / information I'd appreciate hearing from you. We've looked at Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) such as is used at toll gantries, 4G and 5G cellular for RSU safety message distribution to V2I / I2V communications enabled semi-autonomous vehicles. This is a big topic among DOTs who want to inform travelers / truckers as early as possible about crashes, construction zones, Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT), weather conditions and road closures.

    Perhaps the RSU safety messages could also be communicated using AM/FM radio frequencies (or 5G - Qualcomm) though I need to learn more.

    2) I am interested in the idea of thinking about severe weather messaging in terms of time, rather than distance mentioned by Accidental Trucker.........though again, I think the reason that I was asked about how far away from the port (in miles) does a trucker need information that the port will close is focused on communications through ITS signs operated by the DOT. I need to ask more questions to our study sponsors in this regard.

    3) The video PacoTaco posted of the HEB truck rolling over due to high winds is one I've not seen before - though I have seen several videos of this type. A very large LTL carrier we interviewed who operates double bottom 28-1/2' trailers, in addition to a smaller fleet of 45', 48' and 53' trailers indicated that the double 28-1/2' trailers are more stable in high winds than any of the single unit trailers due to their higher torsional stiffness. If you watch the videos showing the wind acting against the trailer (sail area) the rear tandem will lift first and you can see the trailer top frame twist and roll the trailer and finally the tractor over on its side.

    I also read on a trucker's blog that a trucker who operates in Wyoming would much prefer driving a turnpike triple with 3 28 1/2' trailers in high winds than any other configuration regardless if it a Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) or a standard configuration.

    Again, I've seen charts showing the relationship between truck load, wind speed and truck speed which helps provide some guidance when a trucker needs to pull over - though no reference citation was given for this chart.

    4) Regarding truck parking in Texas - you might be interested in the following reports which discuss the current status of truck parking and also provides information about the location of parking across the state.

    TxDOT won a $7 million grant from FHWA to improve truck parking along IH 10 in Texas and 3 other states.

    I will guarantee you (based on personal interactions and discussions) that the Texas State Legislature, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and Texas Department of Public Safety (and University Researchers) know how much trucking and truckers contribute to the public in Texas and nationwide. You have our respect for the job you do.

    Currently trucks move about 1.2 billion tons of freight per year in Texas which is valued at $1.6 trillion. The amount of freight transported by trucks is forecast to double by 2045 ------- thus we have a lot of work ahead of us to help make the system safe for the trucking community.

    The part UT-CTR is working on right now is one part of a much larger puzzle to achieve this.

    Thanks to all of you again who are responding to this thread, I really appreciate it.

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  9. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    I think a phone number drivers can call to hear an announcement about port operations would work. That isvhow a large manufacturer announces snow day to employees. It's much simpler than a web site.
  10. Wasted Thyme

    Wasted Thyme Road Train Member

    Jan 27, 2020
    GOAT watching
    Honestly. I feel it's a waste of taxes. Use the money to improve the road and add more parking. Drivers can call the port to see if they are open. Just like any other shipper/receiver. The driver is going to stop based on common sense or not.
    JoeyJunk and PacoTaco Thank this.
  11. tarmadilo

    tarmadilo Heavy Load Member

    Dec 12, 2018
    I think he’s trying to set up a system for telling us when the ports are closing, not anything else. Of course we make the final decision on going if they’re not closed, but that’s not he’s talking about.
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