Major weekend snowstorm to slam eastern U.S. again

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Well, here we go again! Another doozy of a winter storm is on track to cause major traffic and supply chain disruptions this weekend. The storm will hit some of the same areas of the Midwest and Northeast freight regions that got snowed in and frozen over last weekend, but several big cities that were spared from that storm won’t be so lucky this time. Travel will be treacherous, and power outages are likely.

Development and TIming

Some parts of the Northeast will get a few inches of snow tonight, fading through the day on Friday.

A stronger low pressure system in the Rockies will gain momentum Friday and Friday night as it moves eastward through portions of the Great Plains and the Midwest, including much of the Ohio River Valley. Then the storm heads into the Northeast from Saturday through Saturday night, stopping just short of New England and New York City, which will be the final stops in the storm’s path on Sunday. As the system intensifies and pulls moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, very cold air from Canada will filter into the storm, helping it spread heavy snow across the previously mentioned areas. Spots close to the freezing line, the transition zone where precipitation types can be mixed, may see very icy conditions.

Snow and Ice Amounts

Most of the biggest snow accumulations are expected across interior sections of the Northeast in cities such as Erie, Pennsylvania; Albany and Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; and Burlington, Vermont, where more than 12 inches could pile up. Northern Maine is included in this, too. Many other areas of the Northeast will see six to 12 inches. Throughout the duration of the storm, strong winds could lead to blowing and drifting snow that may reduce visibility.


The worst result of this storm – significant ice build-up – could grind life to a halt in some major cities later in the weekend. Up to half an inch of ice could accumulate on power lines, trees, roads, and elevated surfaces from around Washington, D.C. to New York City to Boston. Besides making travel risky to nearly impossible, people may go without electricity for days. Folks in these cities should prepare by having these essentials handy in an emergency kit in case they lose power:

Flashlight containing fresh batteries
Cash (even if you can get to an ATM, it might not be working)
Manual can opener
Non-perishable foods

Impact on Freight

The I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston could be the most dangerous zone for drivers. Although the potentially icy weather probably won’t develop until Sunday (the least busy day of the week for trucking), shippers and carriers need to be aware that loads could get stuck for a few days depending on how long it takes to thaw out. Drivers will likely run into delays in other regions receiving only snow throughout the weekend, affecting long stretches of I-70, I-80, I-81, I-90, and I-95.

Check chain laws here for the latest updates on winter driving. Also, use this interactive map to check the latest winter weather alerts from the National Weather Service, and look for weather updates on the FreightWaves website.

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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.