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Hot Shots: Week of winter storms coast to coast

Highlighting images in transportation, trucking and weather

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so in social media, highlighting images in trucking, transportation and weather. This week features accidents on snowy and icy roads from California to the Plains to the Southeast.

Blizzard woes

The latest of several blizzards this season to hit the Upper Midwest struck early this week. Some of the worst conditions led to serious accidents on Interstate 94 near Casselton, North Dakota, about 25 miles west of Fargo. Wind gusts exceeded 45 mph in the area on Monday, creating whiteouts.

Related: Truckers honored as Highway Angels for feeding snowbound drivers

The Casselton Volunteer Fire Department, along with other emergency agencies, braved dangerous wind chills as cold as 40 degrees below zero to rescue people trapped in the Casselton pileup. The National Weather Service office in Grand Forks tweeted that its region of responsibility, which includes Fargo and surrounding areas, averages 2.6 blizzards a season. So far this season, as of Friday, 11 blizzards have struck the region.

California dreaming?

By midweek, a new winter storm started cranking out West and into parts of the Plains. Parts of California received just enough snow to send some drivers out of control on state Highway 58 in Tehachapi, about 40 miles southeast of Bakersfield.

At least one of the wrecks involved an 18-wheeler. Crews with the California Department of Transportation had to close a section of Route 58 temporarily in order to remove vehicles from the road.

Ice isn’t always nice

The storm that dumped snow in the West impacted the Plains and mid-South to a much higher level. It produced heavy sleet and freezing rain from Texas to Kentucky on Wednesday and Thursday. Accidents and road closures ensued on several interstates, including a fatal wreck on an icy Interstate 24 bridge in Kentucky.

The storm moved into the Northeast by Thursday night and will impact parts of the region through Friday evening. Some places in New England and upstate New York could see snow totals of 12 inches, while other spots closer to the Interstate 95 corridor may see ice and sleet with lesser snow amounts.

Water, water everywhere

On the warm side of the winter storm front, heavy rain drenched parts of the South from Tuesday afternoon into early Wednesday. Roads flooded in parts of Tennessee, including the Nashville and Chattanooga areas, where more than 3 inches of rain were recorded.

More rain followed later in the week, with more possible in the South over the upcoming weekend.

Beauty shot

This week’s beauty shot features a fogbow in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, about 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach. Like rainbows, the two primary ingredients for a fogbow are sunlight and water droplets. For a fogbow to form, the sun needs to be at a low angle (30 to 40 degrees) to the fog.

This is the reason why fogbows are most commonly spotted in the mornings and evenings, or from high vantage points that place the viewer above the fog, like on a mountainside, seaside cliff or even from an airplane. Fogbows don’t show as many colors as rainbows because water droplets in fog are very small and don’t reflect as much light as regular raindrops that form rainbows.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

You might also like:

Tips for truckers: How to weather a snow squall

Worst 10 states for winter fatal traffic crashes

Where are truckers most at risk from February tornadoes?


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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.