• ITVI.USA
    12,371.230
    1,536.990
    14.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    15.950
    0.050
    0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    12,358.510
    1,529.980
    14.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.650
    -0.050
    -1.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.630
    0.110
    4.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    1.910
    0.050
    2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.250
    -0.060
    -4.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.390
    0.130
    5.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.330
    0.070
    5.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.750
    0.020
    0.7%
  • WAIT.USA
    103.000
    -17.000
    -14.2%
  • ITVI.USA
    12,371.230
    1,536.990
    14.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    15.950
    0.050
    0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    12,358.510
    1,529.980
    14.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.650
    -0.050
    -1.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.630
    0.110
    4.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    1.910
    0.050
    2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.250
    -0.060
    -4.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    2.390
    0.130
    5.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.330
    0.070
    5.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    2.750
    0.020
    0.7%
  • WAIT.USA
    103.000
    -17.000
    -14.2%
InsightsNewsWeather and Critical Events

Blizzard closing in on tight-capacity markets out west

Tender rejections doubled in Salt Lake City in past week

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.

The situation

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.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Thursday, Mar. 18, 2020, 10 a.m. EDT; Plains blizzard

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.

SONAR Tickers: OTRI Weekly Change Tree Map

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!

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his nearly 20 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.
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