The first notable winter-like storm in the Mountain West this fall has been delivering on its promise. FreightWaves.com first reported on the potential storm on Monday, Nov. 18. The system has been dumping abundant snowfall across the Rockies and Great Basin for the past 36 hours. It was so bad in Colorado yesterday, Nov. 20, that a section of I-70 was closed near Vail. The storm will keep going today, Nov. 21, gradually fading tonight. Shippers, carriers and drivers should prepare for more potential roadblocks and delays in freight flows which may linger after the snowfall stops.
Another one to three inches will accumulate today in parts of southwestern Utah along the I-15 corridor and the Bryce Canyon area. The story is the same for the Wasatch Range just east of Salt Lake City.
Portions of western Colorado could see an additional four to 12 inches, depending on elevation. These storms may give drivers a hard time over Loveland Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel. In Denver, on the eastern edge of the storm, some roads may be icy. Drivers should be especially careful on bridges and overpasses.
Several more inches to a foot of snowfall will blanket the Sheep Range and Spring Mountains of southern Nevada, in addition to the mountains of central and eastern Nevada. The Flagstaff, Arizona area, as well as the high elevations of western and northern New Mexico, will get a heaping helping of new snowfall, too.
Today’s snowfall could bump storm totals to 18 inches or more in some spots. Keep in mind that winds may be strong enough in some areas to cause blowing/drifting snow, creating white-out conditions.
Other areas of wintry weather
Rain, freezing rain and snow are making roads messy from the Arrowhead of Minnesota to far northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Some places along US-41, US-2, US-51 and SR-77 will see three to five inches of snow, including cities such as Ironwood, Copper Harbor, Houghton and Hurley.
The same storm dumping snow in the Mountain West will soak portions of the Desert Southwest with more soaking rains and thunderstorms. Flash flooding is possible on the I-17 corridor between Phoenix and Flagstaff, as well as on I-10 from Tucson to the New Mexico border. Parts of the region are in a severe drought and desperately need rain, but not this much at one time.
Rainfall rates may exceed one inch per hour at times, with rain accumulations approaching three inches. Drivers will have to slow down due to these downpours, and delays in air cargo are possible at Tucson International Airport (ICAO code: TUS).
Fire weather conditions in northern California have improved. Strong winds have backed off and the air isn’t quite as dry as it was the past few days. Pacific Gas and Electric (NYSE: PCG) had issued Public Safety Power Shutoffs to prevent potentially blown down live wires from sparking wildfires.
The company is gradually turning the power back on, but thousands of customers still had no electricity as of 12:30 a.m. PST today, including parts of the San Francisco area. These outages are spread across the purple-shaded region on the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map directly above. Disruptions to local and regional businesses and supply chain operations are possible until everyone’s power is back.