As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, and in particular the Northeast, this weekend, trucking fleets are busy preparing for the storm. Whether it is rerouting trucks or battening down the hatches at terminals, carriers are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

“We are closely monitoring the movement of Hurricane Irene and do have contingency plans to [protect equipment] and our employees,” Sally Davenport, FedEx spokesperson, told Fleet Owner.

Those plans would include moving aircraft and rerouting trucks “so they are not driving into the storm,” Davenport said. “Everything we do is to protect our employees, equipment, and our customers’ freight.”

Carriers not only have their own people and equipment to worry about, there is also the consideration of their customers.

“We are preparing prudently to ensure we are ready for conditions as they arise,” a spokesperson for Schneider National said. “Contingency plans are complete and [have been] communicated to driver, office, shop and warehouse associates. We continue to book freight at this time and will monitor conditions. Communications with customers is ongoing and will continue throughout the weekend.”

Like FedEx, UPS not only has concerns about its customers’ freight, but also a network of terminals, drivers, and vehicles up and down the eastern seaboard that could be affected.

UPS said the company will shift vehicles out of harm’s way in areas where significant damage is possible. This would include moving as many vehicles as possible inside buildings. The company also positions vehicles in yards in what it calls “pattern park” configuration.

“We stage feeder trailers perpendicular to bay doors to protect them,” a spokesperson said. “We also park package cars that are outside facing the building to protect the windshields. Then, we park trailers (either empty or full) perpendicularly behind the package cars.”

Ports along the East Coast are also shutting down operations. The Ports of Morehead City and Wilmington in North Carolina were closing today at noon in preparation for Irene’s arrival.

The Port Authority of New York, which operates the bridges and tunnels in the city, is advising that restrictions and/or closures may occur. Tractor-trailers could be banned from bridges or tunnels at some point.

Many East Coast states are already near record rainfall amounts this summer, saturating the ground. With Irene forecasted to dump 10 in. or more of rain in some areas, widespread flooding of roadways is expected.

According to weather.com, Irene is expected to make an initial landfall along the Cape Hatteras area of North Carolina later tonight and into Saturday. The storm is then expected to skirt the coastline before finally coming ashore across Long Island and into Connecticut and up through Western Massachusetts on Sunday and into Monday morning.

Because of the size of the storm, nearly 400 mi. wide, hurricane and tropical storm conditions could be felt up to 200 mi. inland even if the storm stays just offshore, according to experts.

As of 5 a.m. this morning, Irene had sustained winds of 110 mph, making it a Category 2 hurricane, although strengthening was still possible, experts said.