Although Mother Nature doesn’t always pay attention to the calendar, like when she sent early-February record warmth to parts of the South and Northeast last week, she got right back into winter mode over the weekend, making sure we didn’t get too comfortable. Seattle had an unusual amount of snow, while freezing rain iced over streets in parts of the Midwest and the Northeast. These areas won’t be out of the woods this week.
After two rounds of unusually heavy snow in the Seattle metro area over the weekend, a third round could strike later this afternoon (Monday, February 11) through tonight. The weekend snowfall added up to 14.1 inches at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (ICAO code: SEA). This month now ranks as the eighth-snowiest February in Seattle’s history, according to a National Weather Service (NWS) tweet, breaking a 70-year-old record. But it could move into the number seven spot with another one to two inches in the forecast for this afternoon.
Seattle also set a daily record for February 8 after 6.4 inches of snow fell on Saturday alone, far surpassing the old record of 2.9 inches from February 8, 2014.
Seattle winters are usually full of rain, but people were seen skiing down streets and making lots of snow angels. However, the weather didn’t come without its problems. Plenty of vehicles got stuck in the snow or slid off roads because drivers lost traction. Also, hundreds of inbound and outbound flights were cancelled at Seattle-Tacoma International.
Even though Seattle and adjacent markets are soft right now as far as freight movement, any drivers who have to haul loads through this area could run into delays on the I-5 corridor today and Tuesday. Heavy snow will also continue in the Northern Rockies of Idaho and Montana for a few days, moving to the central Rockies later in the week.
Check chain laws here for the latest updates on winter driving.
Midwest and Northeast
A developing storm will make a mess of things in parts of the nation’s heartland this afternoon. Look for a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain from Topeka to Kansas City, reaching eastern Iowa later in the day. This will mainly affect travel between I-70 and I-80. A wintry mix will also slow down traffic from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia.
Tonight, the snow in Philly spreads northward to the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania, stretching into western New York toward Buffalo. Meanwhile, rain, sleet and freezing rain will make roads very slick across much of the rest of Pennsylvania, as well as portions of northern Maryland and the Appalachians along the Virginia-West Virginia border. At the same time, significant ice accumulation is also possible from northern Illinois, including the Chicago metro area, to Cleveland, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania, in addition to southern lower Michigan; and heavy snow will cover roads across Wisconsin and northern lower Michigan during this time.
Snow will continue across the Midwest on Tuesday and Tuesday night, where five to 10 inches will be common from the Quad Cities through Wisconsin, with 10 to 15 inches possible in parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; at the same time, interior portions of New England could see up to 12 inches. Meanwhile, the risk of icy roads continues along the I-95 corridor from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston. Besides potentially dangerous travel, wind could be strong at times, reducing visibility due to blowing snow. The wind and ice could also knock down and weight down power lines, cause areas of power outages.
Looking at the latest FreightWaves SONAR data in the chart directly above, outbound freight volumes (OTVI.PHL) in the Philadelphia market have been increasing recently (as well as its relative market share compared to the rest of the country), and outbound tender rejections (OTRI.PHL) are low. This combination indicates plenty of capacity. Momentum might slow down a bit before the developing winter storm fades mid-week, but may rebound quickly depending on next weekend’s forecast, which is still up in the air.
Use this interactive map to find the latest official winter weather alerts across the country from the National Weather Service, and look for weather updates throughout the week on the FreightWaves website.
Other Weather to Watch This Week
Periods of heavy snow will return to the Sierras most of the week, with the heaviest expected to come Tuesday and Wednesday. Snow levels could be as low as 3,000 feet at times, and winds could be strong on occasion. There’s a potential for more delays on I-80 through Reno and the greater Lake Tahoe area.
More flooding is likely across parts of Arkansas this afternoon, with the threat shifting tonight to northern Mississippi, western and middle Tennessee and northern Alabama. The heavy rain moves to northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee and the Carolinas on Tuesday, with a few strong thunderstorms, too. More heavy rain may come back later in the week.