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Major storm heading to Western US

Valley floods possible, heavy mountain snow

(Photo: Caltrans)

A strong storm system will move from the Pacific into the West Coast late Saturday into Sunday, producing the heaviest amount of precipitation for the region since late October.

The potential impact zone will stretch from Oregon to areas of Southern California. Truckers should expect heavy rain in lower elevations and valleys of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, heavy snow in higher elevations and strong winds at all locations.

Major cities within this zone include Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco and Sacramento, California. Major interstates in this zone include Interstate 5 in Oregon and California, Interstate 80 in the Sierra Nevada and Interstate 84 along the Oregon-Washington border.

Rainfall totals could exceed 6 inches in some places through early next week, with snowfall totals of up to 4 feet in the tallest peaks. These snows will significantly impact drivers heading over high mountain passes in the Sierra Nevada, including Scott Mountain Pass, Donner Pass and Carson Pass, just to name a few.

Wind gusts will range from 25 to 50 mph, with the strongest gusts in coastal areas and at higher elevations. Visibility will be limited at times due to blinding rain and whiteout conditions. This stormy weather will likely cause disruptions to ground and air transportation and delays at intermodal operations, with locally severe supply chain interruptions.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 5 from Seattle to Portland to Sacramento.
• Interstate 80 from Reno, Nevada, to San Francisco.
• Interstate 84 from Portland to The Dalles, Oregon.
• U.S. Highway 101 from Tillamook, Oregon, to San Luis Obispo, California


Other notable weekend weather

Look for thunderstorms Friday afternoon and Friday night from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley. Some of these storms will produce severe straight-line winds of 60-plus mph, as well as tornadoes, which may be strong. Some cities in the potential path include Shreveport, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; St. Louis; Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky; Evansville and Indianapolis, Indiana; as well as Cincinnati.

Heavy snow and strong winds will continue to spread across the central Plains and Great Lakes on Friday, continuing in the Great Lakes on Saturday. The biggest accumulations will likely pile up from eastern Wyoming to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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.