Trucking capacity will likely tighten in the Denver and Salt Lake City markets over the next few days as a major snowstorm develops in the region. Capacity in these markets is already strained, but the storm will be over by late tonight or early Friday. So impacts should be fairly short-term.
A storm system spinning over the Four Corners region will produce moderate to heavy snowfall today across the high elevations of Utah – the Wasatch Range and Wasatch Plateau – and Colorado, eastward into the northern Great Plains. In some areas, precipitation will start as rain before changing to snow, making roads icy. But places that see only snowfall could receive 12 inches or more of total accumulation.
Blizzard conditions will crank up from portions of the Denver metropolitan area into southeastern Wyoming – part of the Denver market – and western Nebraska. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour are possible. Gusts could reach 55 mph, especially this afternoon and evening, resulting in whiteouts and periods of zero/near zero visibility. Travel will be very risky for truckers on Interstates 25, 70 and 80 through the region.
National Weather Service (NWS) blizzard warning areas are shaded in purple on the SONAR Critical Events map above. By definition, a blizzard means the NWS expects the following conditions to prevail for a period of at least three hours:
- Sustained wind or frequent gusts of 35 mph or greater; and
- Considerable falling and/or blowing snow, reducing visibility frequently to less than one-quarter mile
Snow showers and gusty winds will also spread into parts of the Dakotas and upper Midwest, impacting travel on sections of the I-29, I-80 and I-90 corridors in places such as Sioux Falls, Bismarck and Fargo.
Impact on freight
Truck capacity has been tightening in the Denver and Salt Lake City markets over the past week. In that time period, outbound tender rejections (OTRI.DEN, OTRI.SLC) have increased almost 45% in Denver, and have nearly doubled in Salt Lake City. This is shown in the Freight SONAR “tree map” below.
Carriers have been turning down loads from shippers in part because of high volume/demand that can’t be met. Denver and Salt Lake City rank 22nd and 21st, respectively, regarding their outbound tender volume indices (OTVI). The OTVI has a base value of 10,000 based on trucking volumes on March 1, 2018. The indes move in proportion to the total observable outbound tender volume in each of the 135 freight markets nationwide.
Capacity will probably remain tight as carriers avoid these markets the next couple days due to the winter storm. By the weekend, major highways in the region may be in better shape for drivers. So rejections may then decrease a bit, which would loosen capacity into next week barring another big storm.
Have a great day, and be careful out there!