Snow, rainstorms to hit major US freight market

Tractor-trailer stuck on rainy highway.

Strong snowstorms and rainstorms will slam southern California over the next few days, possibly slowing down freight movement in the major market of Ontario.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Tuesday, Apr. 7, 2020, 10 a.m. EDT

A slow-moving low pressure system centered southwest of Point Conception, California will drift toward the southeast, moving inland across southern California and northern Baja California on Wednesday, April 8. The system will eventually exit southern California on Saturday, April 11, but not before producing periods of heavy snowfall in the mountains around Los Angeles and San Diego, along with thunderstorms and heavy rainfall in the valleys and deserts.

Cold air aloft will sink to the surface, with the coolest conditions forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. High temperatures for some inland areas of southern California will be 20 to 25 degrees below average.

The highest snowfall totals of 12 to 36 inches will hit the mountains of San Bernardino, Ventura, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, above 5,500 feet in elevation. This includes places such as Big Bear City, Wrightwood, Lockwood Valley, Mount Pinos, Acton, Mount Wilson and Sandberg. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning for these areas. Light snow could fall on Interstate 5 through the Grapevine area.

Meanwhile, rainfall totals of one to two inches could flood roads from Los Angeles to San Diego, as well communities in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. Occasional roadblocks are possible on portions of I-5, I-8, I-10 and I-15. Rockslides and debris flows could also lead to road closures.

Impact on freight

Freight Waves SONAR shows that outbound tender volume in the Ontario, California freight market (OTVI.ONT) has been dropping recently. But it’s the third-largest market in the country, and outbound volume is the highest it’s been all year, so there’s still a lot of loads available there.


Outbound tender rejections (OTRI.ONT) have fallen to less than 8%, meaning carriers have been rejecting fewer electronic contracted loads from shippers. An OTRI value of 10% or more is usually a sign of tight capacity with spot rates rising above contract rates. But the market is becoming balanced now that OTRI is in the low- to high-single digits. If OTRI falls into the low- to mid-single digits, this would indicate loose capacity, likely sending spot rates below contract rates.

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