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A shipment of hand-crafted, one of a kind furniture arrived from Europe at the Port of Newark, New Jersey, where it was then loaded onto a truck which would take it to its final destination in Memphis, Tennessee. While on the trans-ocean trip, the large container in which the furniture was held had been wrapped in a shrink-wrap-like covering for added protection from the elements. The wrapping was removed for the over-land part of the journey, as safety regulations prohibit driving with such wrapping on the outside of the container being hauled by the truck.

Three days later, when the truck pulled into Memphis and the cargo was being unloaded into a warehouse, several items of furniture were found to have been damaged. It was determined that moisture was the cause. The furniture dealer blamed the trucking company, saying that rain must have entered the inside of the truck enroute. The trucking company checked with its driver who said that he didn’t run into any rain during his trip. The trucking company pointed to the steamship company as the culprit. They denied any wrong-doing, saying that the container was wrapped up tight as a drum during transit. They said it must have happened at the docks in Bremerhaven, Germany, where the furniture was loaded onto the ship. Fingers were being pointed in every direction, with no one taking responsibility. The attorney for the Memphis furniture dealer used his finger to dial COMPUWEATHER.

Since the furniture had been a moving target, forensic meteorologists at COMPUWEATHER first obtained copies of the truckers log, which indicated where the vehicle was at various times and days. By analyzing the weather along the drive route at the specific times of the day the truck was traveling through, the driver’s story was verified: no rain had fallen on the truck during the drive. Since the container had been sealed watertight during the ocean part of the transit, rain could not have entered during that leg of the journey.

COMPUWEATHER then checked the weather in the Port of Bremerhaven on the day the shipment was loaded onto the vessel. Once again, no rain was found. But looking beyond precipitation, the source of the moisture which caused the damage was located. On the day that the furniture was loaded into the container, the weather was very hot and humid. This meant that the air inside of the container was very damp. The container was then sealed tightly, trapping this moisture-laden air inside. During the trans-ocean part of the trip, the cargo ship encountered colder weather, which caused the air inside of the container to cool off rapidly. Since colder air can’t hold as much moisture as warmer air, condensation occurred inside the closed container. That condensed moisture ended up on the furniture, causing damage to several expensive pieces.