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Wintry weather hitting a few up-and-coming freight markets this week (with forecast video)

March isn’t exactly coming in like a lion in any particular region of the country, but some low-impact winter storms could slow down drivers and freight flows this week in a few markets that have seen increasing volumes over the past seven days.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Monday, Mar. 2, 2020

Although weekend snowfall is fading across the Sierra Nevada, Sierra Madre and central Rockies, roads will remain slick today along the Interstate 70 corridor from Denver to Salt Lake City, I-80 from Cheyenne to Salt Lake City and I-80 from Reno into eastern California.

Scattered rain, freezing rain and snow will keep roads slick today and tonight across western Washington state, including the Cascades, Olympics and Willapa Hills, in addition to parts of the Rockies in northern Idaho and western Montana. Minor delays are possible on I-90 over Lookout and Snoqualmie passes, as well as on US-2 over Stevens Pass. Another storm could hit these areas on Wednesday and then again on Friday.

A batch of snow will quickly move through northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin tonight, clipping the Minneapolis area. Another round of snowfall may move through or close to these areas later in the week.

Mixed precipitation – rain, freezing rain and snow – will also hit northern New England later today and tonight, with the heaviest snowfall in northern Maine. Right now, it looks like the Northeast region should be rather quiet the rest of the week, not in the line of fire of any major nor’easters.

As of this morning, the National Weather Service (NWS) has no alerts posted for major winter conditions in any part of the U.S.

Impact on freight

Volumes have been expanding over the past seven days in a few freight markets that will receive wintry weather today and/or later this week.

SONAR Ticker: OTVIW Map (left); SONAR Ticker: ROTVIW.FAR

The latest Outbound Tender Volume Index-Weekly Change (OTVIW) from Freight Waves SONAR shows positive movement in the Spokane, Washington (OTVIW.GEG); Fargo, North Dakota (OTVIW. FAR); Duluth, Minnesota (OTVIW.DLH); and Syracuse, New York (OTVIW.SYR) markets. The amount of outbound volume has increased 17.09%, 33.09%, 37.40% and 29.32%, respectively, since last Monday, February 24. This is a combination of dry van, reefer (climate-controlled), flatbed and tanker freight.

Broken down further, dry van accounts for most of the increase in Spokane and Syracuse, while reefer makes up most of the increase in Fargo (ROTVIW.FAR). Reefer outbound volume weekly change data was not available for Duluth.

Despite the wintry weather, carriers may still find opportunities to book loads this week out of these growing markets. At this point, it looks as if none of the storms in these areas will be high-impact or will likely cause long-term delays with drivers getting stuck for days.

Other notable weather this week

High winds, blowing snow and reduced visibility will be issues in southeastern Wyoming through tonight. Westerly crosswinds along I-25 and sections of I-80 could reach 65 to 70 mph in places such as Cheyenne, Laramie, Bordeaux, Elk Mountain and Buford.

Drivers may also have trouble in Montana Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon. Westerly crosswinds along I-15, as well as sections of I-90, US-2 and US-87 could reach 60 to 65 mph in cities like Cut Bank, Helena, Great Falls, Lewistown and Havre. Deadheading or hauling light loads may be risky.

Periods of heavy rain this week could make river flooding worse in portions of the Southeast, from Louisiana, Arkansas and eastern Texas to Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Monday, Mar. 2, 2020; Severe thunderstorm threat

Over the next few days, thunderstorms may produce isolated tornadoes and severe winds in places like Dallas, Austin and Beaumont, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee; and Tupelo, Mississippi.

Have a great day, and be careful out there!

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is 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 February 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” eight consecutive years.