Severe storm, tornado threats continue across the South (with forecast video)

Tractor-trailer heading down highway with lightning across the shy.

Severe thunderstorms have been tearing across the Plains and the Southeast since Tuesday night, April 21, causing wind damage and flash flooding. Several tornadoes, mostly in Oklahoma and Texas, killed at least five people, and winds blew over tractor-trailers.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Thursday, April 23, 10 a.m. EDT; Severe thunderstorm risk areas

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning in the Mobile, Alabama area earlier today, as well as in parts of northern Florida and southeastern Alabama. The threat for more severe weather continues today and tonight across the Southeast.

A strong low pressure system spinning over Arkansas will track from west to east across the Southeast today and tonight. This system will likely produce numerous additional severe thunderstorms in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, northern Florida and southern South Carolina. These storms could produce additional tornadoes – including a few strong tornadoes of EF-2 strength or higher – as well as intense straight-line wind of 60+ mph, large hail and more areas of torrential rainfall and flash flooding.

Some of the major metropolitan areas in the potential impact zones include New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Mobile and Birmingham, Alabama; Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, Georgia; Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida; and Charleston, South Carolina. Severe storms could also pop up in Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Huntsville, Alabama; Wilmington, North Carolina; as well as Orlando and Tampa, Florida.

Atlanta, the largest freight market, is in the potential impact zone of severe storms and tornadoes. Looking at FreightWaves SONAR, updated this morning, Atlanta accounts for 4.5% of the nation’s outbound freight. This is reflected in the tree map (left-hand side of the image below), showing the outbound tender market share for all 135 freight markets. Atlanta is in the far upper left-corner of the tree map, indicating that it’s in the number one spot.

SONAR Ticker: OTMS Tree Map (left); SONAR Tickers: OTVI.ATL, OTRI.ATL (right)

The SONAR chart of the right-hand side of the same image shows Atlanta’s outbound tender volume index (OTVI.ATL, blue line) and outbound tender rejection index (OTRI.ATL, orange line). Despite volumes decreasing for quite some time, they have been recovering over the past week. At the same time, the rejection rate – the percentage of electronically offered loads from shippers that are turned down by carriers – continues to drop, standing at 3.3%.

While available freight doesn’t seem to be a problem in the Atlanta market, shippers are extending tender lead times. This is a signal that capacity may be tightening there. Regardless, shippers and carriers should expect delays in freight movement as drivers will have to occasionally slow down or stop due to severe storms, encountering possible roadblocks due to high water or downed trees and power lines.

Have a great day! Please stay healthy and be careful out there!