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Snowstorms, flood risk returning to Pacific Northwest

Heavy rain, snow, with 50-mph winds

(Photo: Oregon DOT)

Another series of powerful storms is underway across portions of the Pacific Northwest. Shippers, carriers and customers should expect delays in freight flows over the next several days.

The frequency and intensity of the storms will produce heavy precipitation totals along with strong winds in western parts of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Canada. This includes the major cities of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.


Related: 5 states with toughest chain laws for truckers


Rain totals through Tuesday will be in the range of 3 to 8 inches in valleys, as well as lower elevations of the Cascades and northern Rockies. Snow accumulations of 12 to 24 inches will pile up in the higher elevations, with larger amounts possible in Canada.

Wind gusts will reach 40 to 50 mph at times, with the strongest winds slamming coastal areas and mountain passes.

Look for a high risk of rollovers at all elevations, plus potential periods of whiteout conditions in the mountains. Flooding will be possible along the coast and just inland due to the combination of heavy rain and blustery winds. Power outages may ocur, as well as road closures due to downed trees and power lines.


The storms may not only slow down truckers on the roads but could also delay air cargo, in addition to loading/unloading at intermodal ramps and ports. There’s potential for localized severe disruptions to business operations and supply chain networks.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 5 from Salem, Oregon, to Seattle.
• Interstate 90 from Seattle to Missoula, Montana.
• Interstate 84 from Portland to Boise, Idaho.

Other notable weekend weather

Look for blizzard conditions to continue Friday across the Upper Midwest, especially in portions of the Dakotas and Minnesota. Rain, snow and gusty winds will hit places like Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, western Pennsylvania and upstate New York over the weekend.

Showers and thunderstorms Friday will drench areas of the mid-Atlantic and New England, impacting the Interstate 95 corridor.

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.
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