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Hot Shots: Blizzard, flood, wildfire and more

Highlighting images in transportation, trucking and weather

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so on social media, highlighting images in trucking, transportation and weather. This week features a traffic jam in a Rockies snowstorm, vehicles stuck in Southern floods, a road closure near a wildfire and more.


The first major snowstorm of the season hit the Rockies Monday and Tuesday, dumping 20 to 28 inches of snow in parts of Montana and Wyoming. Then on Wednesday, more than 20 inches piled up in parts of the Dakotas.

Winds were whipping fast enough to produce whiteout conditions, bringing traffic to a standstill for hours on interstate highways. Gusts reached 60 mph in some spots, resulting in blowing snow that reduced visibility to nearly zero at times.

Raging Raleigh rainstorm

Torrential rain hit Raleigh, North Carolina, last weekend with a vengeance. Raleigh-Durham International Airport reported nearly 5 inches in its rain gauge Saturday, a new record for Oct. 9. Downpours were so intense they caused waterways to overflow their banks quickly, flooding streets in a flash.

Drivers became stuck in floodwaters and had to be rescued in some cases. Many roads were closed or washed out. The deluge was a result of a cold front, as well as moisture from Tropical Storm Mindy off the East Coast.

Wildfire woes

Another wildfire started in California this week, bringing the number of large fires in the state to 10. The Alisal fire started Monday afternoon near the Alisal Reservoir in Southern California’s Santa Ynez mountains, 20 miles northwest of Santa Barbara. A 25-mile section of U.S. Highway 101 (US-101) west of Santa Barbara, from near Goleta to Las Cruces, was shut for three days. Highway officials reopened it Wednesday night as weather conditions improved and smoke from the fire became less of an issue.

Fortunately, firefighters have been able to gain better control of the blaze, which was 16,900 acres in size and 41% contained as of Friday morning. The railroad parallel to US-101, which serves Amtrak and Union Pacific, was also reopened. 

Related: Self-described ‘shaman’ arrested in California wildfire arson

Beauty shot

This week’s beauty shot features a rainbow in the sky as trucks roll down Interstate 80 in southeastern Wyoming.

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.