More severe storms head for nation’s heartland (with forecast video)

Tractor-trailer heading down highway with dark storm cloud in the background.

Nasty storms will probably delay truckers again Tuesday from the Great Plains to the Great Lakes, across parts of the Mountain Prairie and Midwest freight regions.

Freight regions. (Source: FreightWaves)

Storms have been relentlessly battering parts of these regions for weeks, causing damage almost every day since mid-June.

Just yesterday, wind gusts of 60 to almost 80 mph blew down trees and knocked out electricity in communities in 10 different states, according to reports received by the National Weather Service (NWS). Many of the wind reports came from the Mountain Prairie states of Colorado and Wyoming.

Portions of Colorado will be under the gun again Tuesday, as well as the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, much of Kansas, southern and eastern Nebraska, northern Missouri, most of Iowa, northwestern Illinois, southern Minnesota and much of Wisconsin.

A slow-moving frontal boundary, along with plenty of warmth and humidity, will trigger thunderstorms. Wind shear – increasing wind speed with height and/or changes in wind direction with height – plus much colder air aloft will transform some storms into supercells, which are thunderstorms that contain strong rotating updrafts. Supercells often produce tornadoes, destructive straight-line winds and large hail. However, the primary threats for Tuesday are wind and hail. The NWS expects only a few tornadoes to touch down.

The NWS classifies a thunderstorm as severe if it produces any of the following based on radar or eyewitness reports:

• Winds of at least 58 mph (50 knots).
• Hail at least 1 inch in diameter (quarter size).
• A tornado.

Severe storms don’t typically cause major/long-term disruptions in freight movement on the roads, unless there’s an accident, but drivers should expect at least minor delays where they run into these storms. Conditions can change quickly and may catch drivers off guard if they aren’t prepared.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Tuesday, July 14, 2020, 8 a.m. EDT; Severe thunderstorm risk areas

Some of the cities in the potential impact zones include, but are not limited to: Denver, Colorado; Amarillo, Texas; Guymon, Oklahoma; Wichita, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Ohama, Nebraska; Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa; Rockford, Illinois; Rochester and Minneapolis, Minnesota; and La Crosse and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, the threat for severe storms shifts slightly to the south and east, but also diminishes. Some of the same areas at risk Tuesday could get hit again, in addition to places like St. Louis; Indianapolis; and the busy Joliet, Illinois market, near Chicago.

SONAR ticker: OTVI

Joliet has one of the highest levels of volume of the 135 markets in the country. On the SONAR map of the Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI), directly above, Joliet is shaded in dark blue and circled in red. The darker the blue, the higher the value, meaning there’s plenty of freight there being offered by shippers.

The good news about Wednesday’s severe storms is that they should be quite isolated, so they won’t hit as many spots as Tuesday’s storms.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.