A significant early season snowstorm will intensify later today, October 8, in the northern Rockies, lasting through tomorrow night/early Thursday, October 10. FreightWaves first reported on this potential storm on October 7. Delays are inevitable, and drivers should avoid the region if possible.
A strong cold front has been moving across the western Hi-Line area of Montana this morning. This is the area along US-2 in northern Montana, just south of the Canadian border. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service said the forecast remains on track for this front to continue dropping southward, reaching the Helena, Montana area around by noon MDT, and into the Bozeman area by late afternoon.
Winds will be from the north by that time and quite gusty, producing a quick drop in temperatures once the front moves through these areas into Wyoming. Most spots across the northern and central parts of Big Sky country will observe their high temperatures in the morning, with some near-normal daytime highs in the southwestern section of the state.
Widespread precipitation may lag the front by a couple of hours for some areas. Also, the precipitation may begin as rain before changing to snow. Snowfall will become widespread tonight through Wednesday. The best chances for snow will come along the Rocky Mountain Front, and then from Great Falls to Lewistown and southward. North of this line may only see a brief period of snow and little accumulation. The remainder of the region will see periods of moderate to heavy snow, as well as gusty winds and blowing snow. Snow should diminish later Wednesday afternoon into the evening.
Forecast snowfall amounts have come down a bit overall from previous forecasts, but the Rocky Mountain Front – the transition zone between the Rockies and the grassy Plains – along with the central and southwestern mountains of Montana will be hit with at least 12 inches of total snowfall. Some spots like Rogers, Bozeman and Targhe passes, in addition to Red Lodge, Nye and the Beartooth Mountains, could get socked with 15 to 18 inches.
Look for six inches or more across lower peaks in the southwestern and central areas, including Billings, Great Falls, Helena, Bozeman and West Yellowstone. Several inches to a foot of snow could pile up across the northern half of Wyoming, including Casper, Riverton, Sheridan and surrounding areas. Various winter weather alerts remain posted across the region.
Winds will be strong enough to cause occasional white-out conditions due to blowing snow on the I-15, I-90 and I-94 corridors. Besides very hazardous driving conditions, downed trees and power lines will lead to loss of electricity and potential roadblocks that may last up to 24 hours. Operations will also be disrupted at several international airports and oil facilities. These are indicated by the red and orange dots and “doughnuts” on the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map above, where red represents a forecast of a High risk of disruption and orange represents a Medium risk.
A section of Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) rail is out of service in Missouri between Moberly and Kansas City because of logjams and debris strikes to the Grand River bridge in Brunswick, Missouri. Shippers operating through this area should expect delays of at least 48 to 72 hours.
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, the section of I-29 that has been closed for weeks due to flooding – from just north of Council Bluffs to Loveland – has been opened.
Finally, some lanes and ramps of the I-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River are still closed. This is just east of Houston and is due to damage during last month’s flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, repairs may not be finished until early 2020.
Super Typhoon Hagibis is still spinning over the western Pacific Ocean, producing sustained winds of 155 mph as of 8:00 a.m. EDT today. It will stay strong for the next few days, but should lose some steam as it gets closer to Japan later in the week.
Hagibis could make landfall in Japan, in the southern part of the island of Honshu, late Saturday evening, Japan time. Winds at that point could be as high as 100 mph. This could have a significant impact on the ports of Nagoya and Tokyo, depending on the typhoon’s ultimate track. Shippers should expect delays through lanes in the northern Philippine Sea and possibly the Sea of Japan. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.
Have a great day, and be careful out there!