icebergs deben
Icebergs float down the river near Felixstowe

Severe weather hit UK supply chains this week, with several ports closing or suspending services because of snow and high winds.

Red warnings have been issued across the UK after a weather system of Siberian origin–  dubbed “the beast from the east” – collided with Storm Emma.

Yesterday, Maersk announced that Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Felixstowe, Grangemouth* ports were closed, and services into London Gateway suspended.

A spokesperson for Felixstowe told The Loadstar both its container yards and rail terminals were open but problems elsewhere in the rail freight network had resulted in delays.

“High winds also suspended quayside operations, but these resumed mid-afternoon,” continued the spokesperson. “As for the pilot station – which serves both us and the Thames – this is offline due to large swells at sea.”

A spokesperson for London Gateway told The Loadstar today the port had been “forced” to suspend landside operations for eight hours.

“Around six of those hours were on Wednesday morning, when south Essex saw its heaviest accumulation of snowfall. The team worked hard and fast to clear snow from roads and port equipment, meaning we were able to reopen by midday and handle trucks.”

Since then Gateway has remained open, with the spokesperson noting it serviced more than 1,100 trucks yesterday. But it appears Maersk has yet to lift the suspension it placed on its vessels using the port.

“Delays at pilot stations have impacted vessel schedules, but when vessels have had pilots we have been open and ready to serve them,” said the spokesperson. “Despite the unrelenting nature of ‘the beast from the east’, the team has worked tirelessly to ensure we can continue to have trade flow through the port.”

The spokesperson urged anyone planning to use the port in the coming days to monitor its social media and website with adverse weather still being forecast.

And today Peel Ports Clydeport announced it had reopened its King George V Dock and Greenock Ocean Terminal, and a spokesperson for the port of Dover said the weather had failed to disrupt its operations, with “business as usual”.

On the roads, Highways England continues to announce closures and delays following a spike in collisions and damage to roads caused by falling trees.

Air freight has also been affected, with KLM suspending flights out of Schiphol, while services out of Heathrow have been running on a “consolidated” basis.

The London hub cancelled more than 350 flights yesterday, with Dublin seeing some 330 cancelled. More than 1,250 services were cancelled across the UK.

*Updated 07/03/2018

An earlier version of this report, citing comments from Maersk Line, stated that Tilbury was also closed as a result of bad weather. This was not the case, with the port open and operating as normal.

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