Major snowstorm to delay or stop Midwest supply chain rest of the weekend

A powerful snowstorm is developing out west which will soon produce blizzard conditions across parts of the Plains and Great Lakes states. The storm will move out of the Rockies in Colorado and plow through Kansas and Nebraska in the Mountain Prairie region tonight (Saturday) into early Sunday. Then it will blast eastward through through Iowa, Missouri, and the Chicago metro area in the Midwest region the rest of the day on Sunday until the evening hours.

  SONAR Headhaul Index/Radar 10 p.m. EST Saturday, November 24
SONAR Headhaul Index/Radar 10 p.m. EST Saturday, November 24

Heavy, blowing snow will likely cause major delays, slowing down or stopping the supply chain for hours. The National Weather Service has issued Blizzard Warnings for southern Iowa, northern Kansas, southern Nebraska, and northern Missouri for late tonight through Sunday afternoon, with up to 10 inches of accumulation in some areas and wind gusts of up to 60 mph on some routes.

The heaviest snow will probably fall near and north of I-70 from Kansas into Nebraska, as well as along I-80 from near Lincoln, Nebraska to Des Moines, Iowa. Strong crosswinds from the north, along the interstates mentioned, will cause whiteout conditions from blowing snow, reducing visibility to zero at times and making deadheading or hauling light loads risky or nearly impossible. Even in areas where the winds aren’t strong, the snow could be falling at a fast rate of one to two inches per hour which would also limit visibility.

The Chicago metro area is under a Winter Storm Warning for Sunday and Sunday night with six to 10 inches of snow expected. It looks like the heaviest snow will fall north of downtown along I-90 and I-94 with near blizzard conditions. Gusts up to 35 mph will lead to blowing snow, so drivers should plan their breaks to coincide with periods of limited visibility.

After the storm passes, fuel gelling will be an issue in areas affected by the blizzard, especially  for drivers who don’t use enough winter additive in their diesel. Low temperatures early in the week will be as cold as 15 to 20 degrees with highs remaining below freezing. Also, batteries with low CCA values will have a hard time starting and will lead to further delays.

 Freight regions  (Source: FreightWaves)
Freight regions (Source: FreightWaves)

Visit the following web sites for up to date road conditions in the blizzard’s path: Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also 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 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” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.