Late-fall storms will throw a wrench into weekend travel plans in several regions of the U.S. The weather will be icy and dicey from the West to the Northeast, and delays are likely as roads turn or remain snow and ice covered. Truckers will have to chain up or find alternate routes in order to safely get home or drop off and pick up loads.
A snowstorm that started two days ago will gradually fade across the Cascades, the central and northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) and the Wasatch Mountains of Utah on Friday, Dec. 13. A less-intense version of the storm will linger through this weekend. During this time, fresh snowfall will develop in the Sierra Nevada and the greater Lake Tahoe area.
After today’s snowfall, total accumulations could reach 3 to 4 feet on some of the tallest peaks. Some of the worst spots for drivers may include, but are not limited to, Stevens Pass (US-2), Snoqualmie Pass (I-90) and White Pass (US-12) in Washington state; Lookout Pass (I-90) on the Idaho-Montana border; Loveland Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel (I-70) west of Denver; Dobson Pass in Idaho; and McKenzie and Santiam passes in Oregon. Other trouble spots will be Yellowstone and Mount St. Helens national parks. Blowing snow will create occasional whiteouts and potential roadblocks. Besides dangerous road conditions making travel risky for everyone, deadheading is a gamble due to the very gusty winds.
This storm will spread moderate snowfall across the central Great Plains Saturday night and Sunday. Accumulations up to 6 inches are possible along the I-70 corridor from Denver to Kansas City. Blizzard conditions are not likely, but occasional gusts of 40 mph could result in blowing snow and reduced visibility in some spots.
A moderate storm system will be moving across the Midwest, Ohio Valley and Northeast late in the weekend and early next week, producing a wide variety of weather across these regions. Snow, sleet, ice and gusty winds are likely. At this time, there’s no indication that this will be a major storm with blizzard conditions or debilitating amounts of ice buildup. However, the storm could cause just enough of a mess to slow air, road and rail transportation, as well as disrupt local and regional supply chains and businesses.
Besides knowing which roads may be risky, shippers, carriers and brokers can use FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events maps, like the ones above, to locate assets such as airports, railroads, ports and oil facilities that may be in the paths of significant storms. These assets are color-coded depending on the anticipated level of disruption. In the case of the storms this weekend, delays of air cargo will be possible at several major airports, on several Class 1 rails, and at several ports of entry and oil/petroleum facilities.
Other areas of wintry weather today, Dec. 13
Freezing rain will make roads slick in the Appalachians, from North Carolina to central Pennsylvania. Some of the worst conditions could be on I-40 in the North Carolina foothills, but portions of I-64 and I-85 could also be bad. The majority of the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed this morning in North Carolina and Virginia, according to a tweet from the Blue Ridge National Park Service. Check here for updates. Also, the weight of the ice may knock down some utility lines, leading to scattered power outages and roadblocks.
It’ll also be snowy today across Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The highest totals, up to eight inches through tonight, are likely to occur along the southwestern shore of Lake Superior. This includes the Minnesota cities of Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Grand Marais.
Additional notes for today, Dec. 13
Look for more periodic closures on I-80 today in southeastern Wyoming due to extremely gusty crosswinds and a high risk of blowovers.
Have a great day, a wonderful weekend, and be careful out there!