Flood threat spreading from Plains to Great Lakes (with forecast video)

Flooded road with "Road Closed" sign.

Tropical Storm Cristobal crashed into the Gulf Coast last weekend, making landfall on the Louisiana coast Sunday evening.

Many areas were flooded by storm surge and torrential rains, with closures mainly on secondary roads.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Tuesday, June 9, 2020, 9 a.m. EDT

The remnants of the storm have been moving slowly northward since landfall, centered near Jefferson City, Missouri as of this morning. The system has traveled only around 660 miles, averaging a forward speed of just 16 mph.

As the system heads toward the Great Lakes-upper Midwest, it will continue to pull tropical moisture into the region. The result will be 2 to 4 inches of rainfall, drenching many areas from Missouri to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour at times will push totals to 5 or 6 inches in some spots, increasing the risk for flash flooding and potential road closures.

Delays in surface transportation and freight movement are most likely to occur on the Interstate 35, 90 and 94 corridors, impacting cities such as Jefferson City, Missouri; Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa; Minneapolis-St. Paul and Rochester, Minnesota; as well as Eau Claire and La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Severe thunderstorms could also pop from Lincoln, Nebraska to Topeka, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, in addition to areas from Chicago to Indianapolis, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; as well as Clarksville and Jackson, Tennessee. Drivers may run into isolated tornadoes, large hail and very gusty winds in these areas.

Wednesday, the severe thunderstorm threat moves into the Northeast, including the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania freight market where outbound volumes have been rising recently.

Other notable weather

Speaking of winds, conditions will be dangerous across the central and southern Plains today and tomorrow. There’s an elevated risk of rollovers from eastern Colorado into Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and northern Texas as crosswinds from the north blast across I-40, I-70 and I-80. Gusts could reach 60 to 80 mph in some areas, making deadheading and hauling light loads especially risky.

A heat wave will hit Texas today, with record highs possible of 95 to near 105 degrees from Houston to Austin and Brownsville. Reefer drivers will need to make sure their trailers are set to the proper internal temperatures in order to protect produce, beverages and other freight that may spoil in the heat.

Humidity will be stifling, leading to heat index readings of 105 to 120 degrees. So drivers should also take care of themselves, not just their trucks. In order to avoid heat illness or stroke, drivers should spend as little time as possible outside and drink plenty of water. When taking breaks, stay in air conditioned spaces as much as possible.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.