Watch Now

Flood risk elevated as storms pound Pacific Northwest

Truckers could hit significant delays at times along Interstate 5

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

As storms continue dumping snow in the high elevations of the Cascades, wet weather could be an issue for truckers in the valleys.

A few more rounds of heavy rain will hit the lowlands and coastal areas of western Washington and Oregon over the next two days, fading later Friday. This will impact travel and could cause delays from the Interstate 5 corridor west to the U.S. Highway 101 corridor, including the Seattle and Portland freight markets.

Rain totals through Friday may reach 3 to 6 inches and the National Weather Service has issued flood watches from Eugene, Oregon, to Bellingham, Washington, near the U.S.-Canada border.

Related: Record fall rain slams Pacific Northwest

Many of these areas have already been drenched by heavy rain this week, totaling 2 to 3-plus inches in some cases. Portland had a daily record of 1.15 inches Wednesday. Parts of the region even experienced major flooding last month. More rain will only increase the odds of flooding.

The heavy rain will also increase snow melt in lower slopes, leading to excessive runoff that may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams in low-lying and flood-prone locations. High water across roads could lead to closures.

Another potential threat from the rain and runoff is landslides, which may also make some roads impassable.

Even after the storms fade and exit the region late Friday afternoon or evening, any flooding that does occur could last into Saturday, which is when the flood watches are set to expire. However, the watches may be extended into Sunday if flooding becomes worse than expected.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Outbound Tender Volume Index Weekly Change (OTVIW) map. To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

More drivers may be heading into these areas to pick up freight. The latest FreightWaves Outbound Tender Volume Index Weekly Change (OVTIW) shows increasing values. This means that shippers in these markets have been offering more and more loads to carriers over the past seven days, so carriers may send their drivers there to grab those loads.

Winds will pack a wallop, too, gusting at 60 to 70 mph along the coast and in foothills of the coastal mountain ranges.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 5 from Eugene to Bellingham.
• Interstate 90 from Seattle to Tanner, Washington.
• U.S. Highway 101 from Florence, Oregon, to Olympia, Washington.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

You might also like:

A look back: 6 impactful weather events in 2021 transportation

How ‘killer’ summer heat stole the Christmas tree supply

Ground control: Inside story of shipping a 3-ton satellite

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is 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 February 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” eight consecutive years.