Major winter storm still on course to hit several freight regions this weekend

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Major Winter Storm

A winter storm will crank up later today (Friday) in the nation’s heartland, gaining momentum and strength through the weekend. By this evening, rain in Kansas, Missouri, and northern Arkansas will change to snow (some heavy and wet), as well as freezing rain. This will spread eastward later tonight and Saturday through the mid-Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys. Snow and ice will then shift into the southern Appalachians and mid-Atlantic on Saturday night and Sunday.

Winter Storm Warnings have been issued from the St. Louis metro area through Cincinnati, Ohio. Additional winter weather alerts may posted by the National Weather Service (NWS) this afternoon and tonight. Look for updates on this interactive map. Also, there’s a potential for road closures due to downed trees and power lines, and blowing snow may lead to reduced visibility in some areas. More information on the storm, including estimated locations and amounts of precipitation, can be found here.

Other Significant Weather This Weekend

Mountain snow and heavy valley rain will impact travel through the Los Angeles metro area tonight and Saturday. Drivers: prepare for potential delays on I-5, US-101, and the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

Rain totals of one to three inches are forecast for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and western Ventura Counties, with up to one inch possible in Los Angeles County. Rainfall rates may be as high as three-quarters of an inch per hour, leading to a minor risk of localized flooding, as well as rock slides and debris flows from wildfire burn scar areas. So, there’s a potential for some roads closures.

A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued by the NWS for the mountains of San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, including Big Bear City and Big Bear Lake. Total snow accumulations of two to four inches are expected, with localized amounts up to eight inches. This will affect travel mainly on state routes 18 and 330. Most of the snow will fall in elevations above 6,500 feet, but some snow is possible down to around 5,500 feet. Check chain laws here for the latest updates on winter driving.

Another threat, dangerous to people wanting to catch some waves or stick their toes in the sand, is strong offshore winds from San Diego to Los Angeles during the entire weekend. Elevated surf of four to nine feet will increase the risk for ocean drowning, particularly at west-facing beaches. Rip currents can pull swimmers and surfers out to sea, and large “sneaker waves,” ones that can catch people by surprise, may cause injury. They can also wash people off beaches and rocks, as well as capsize small boats near shorelines. A Beach Hazards Statement has been issued for these areas, as well as the southwestern coast of Oregon for Sunday.

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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.