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High winds in Southwest raise rollover risk for truckers

Gusts of 50-plus mph likely

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Truckers will have to battle wind gusts exceeding 50 mph Wednesday and possibly Thursday across the Four Corners region and other parts of the Southwest. This will increase the risk of rollovers not only for drivers who are deadheading (hauling empty dry van or temperature-controlled trailers), but even for drivers carrying full truckloads of freight.

Target areas

Gusts will range from 45 to 55 mph in many portions of southeastern California, including Barstow; southern Nevada, including Las Vegas; much of Arizona, except Phoenix and Tucson; as well as most of New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Winds could reach 60 mph in some isolated spots.

Related: Biden approves funding for New Mexico wildfire victims

The National Weather Service has issued wind advisories for some of these areas, but most of them are under red flag warnings because they are prone to wildfires due to long-term serious drought coupled with the winds. The air will also be very dry, with daytime humidity less than 10%. New and existing wildfires could spread quickly, possibly leading to more road closures. Sections of several state highways near Las Vegas, New Mexico, have been closed for weeks due to the Hermits Peak fire, the largest wildfire in the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Other impacts

Besides the risks of rollovers and road closures, the high winds may have other impacts. Smoke from wildfires could drift into drivers’ fields of vision, occasionally reducing visibility in some areas.

Blowing dust and localized dust storms may develop, also limiting visibility. This happened Tuesday near Amarillo, Texas.

Major lanes of concern

  • Interstate 10 from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to just east of Tucson.
  • Interstate 15 from Barstow to just south of Salt Lake City.
  • Interstate 25 from Denver to Las Cruces.
  • Interstate 40 from Barstow to Amarillo.
  • Interstate 70 from Goodland, Kansas, to the I-15 junction in Utah.

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.