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Flood threat persists for truckers in Deep South

Additional heavy rain Friday could lead to roadblocks from eastern Texas to lower Mississippi Valley

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The threat for more slow-moving thunderstorms and repeated downpours to end the week is looming over parts of the Deep South.

Lake Charles, Louisiana, had a daily record 12.49 inches of rain Monday, which became the third-wettest day in the city’s history. Major flooding prompted water rescues, and Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency. Lafayette and New Iberia, Louisiana, also had record rainfall Monday, as well as the Beaumont-Port Arthur areas in Texas.

Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development shut down a section of Interstate 10 near Baton Rouge because of flooding.

Wednesday was relatively calm, but areas of heavy rain returned Thursday. Flash flooding hit Baton Rouge again, and Lafayette set a daily rainfall record of 4.08 inches.

There’s been a constant flow of moisture streaming into the region all week from the Gulf of Mexico. Only a couple more inches of rain Friday could cause problems in parts of eastern Texas, including Beaumont, Port Arthur and Longview, as well as places from New Orleans to Little Rock, Arkansas. The National Weather Service still has flash flood watches posted for these areas, some not set to expire until Friday evening.

Truckers trying to move through these areas may have to stop at times due to blinding rain, flooded roads and potential closures. Repeated downpours will impact travel on sections of Interstates 10, 20, 30 and 49. Ramp and road closures are possible, especially on secondary routes.

Any air cargo entering/leaving Louis Armstrong International Airport (ICAO code: MSY) in New Orleans may be delayed. Also, loading/unloading of freight could be delayed at intermodal ramps, especially at the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA), in addition to the Port of Baton Rouge and the Port of South Louisiana.

Impact on freight

The latest FreightWaves SONAR data shows medium to high levels of dry van freight available for carriers in markets that may be hit with flooding (red outlined area on map below). This is shown by the Van Outbound Tender Volume Index (VOTVI), an index of electronically tendered volumes on a given day.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Van Outbound Tender Volume index (VOTVI). To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

Markets shaded in blue indicate areas with elevated levels of dry van outbound loads being offered by shippers to carriers. These are some of the places where drivers are most likely headed to pick up freight, leading to tight capacity.

Other notable weekend weather

Many parts of the Desert Southwest are under a red flag warning Friday and/or Saturday due to very dry air, drought and gusty winds. New wildfires could easily spark. Winds could quickly spread new and existing fires out of control. Drivers can do their part by not parking in grassy areas and by not dragging chains.

Areas of snowfall may persist Friday and Friday night in parts of the northern Rockies. This would impact drivers mainy in high elevations of western Montana and northern Idaho. Snow could develop Saturday in parts of the Sierra Nevada in eastern California, as well as the mountains of northern Nevada.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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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.