Snowstorm causing trouble in the Rockies (with forecast video)

A winter storm has shut down roads in the Rockies, and it won’t let up until Friday night.

The storm began Thursday across the northern Rockies of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, spreading into Colorado and the Wasatch Range in Utah during the evening. The storm will continue Friday in these areas, with snow showers lingering into the weekend. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued dozens of winter weather alerts across the region.

SONAR Critical Events: Friday, Feb. 7, 2020; Rockies snowstorm

Salt Lake City and Denver have picked up around 3 inches of snowfall so far, but Salt Lake City won’t see much more. Precipitation there has changed to rain. However, high elevations around the city could see several inches of additional snowfall today. Denver is forecast to receive a few more inches of snowfall.

Higher elevations across the Rockies and Wasatch could see totals of 12 to 36 inches, along with wind gusts of 50 mph or greater, by the time the storm fades tonight. Blowing snow will result in occasional whiteout conditions with low or no visibility.

Due to the hazardous roads and the need for avalanche control, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has closed sections of Interstate 70 between Denver and Vail Pass — this includes the Eisenhower Tunnel area — as well as US-6 over Loveland Pass. This is the announcement on the CDOT website:

“There will be extended closures on I-70 and US-40 for avalanche control Friday morning and the potential for closures through the weekend. Travelers heading to the mountains this morning will see multi-hour waits as crews blast avalanche paths and remove the resulting debris. It is strongly advised that traffic wait in Denver or other locations until the roadway has officially reopened.”

Check chain laws here for the latest updates on winter driving.

Unfortunately, snowstorms often result in missed deliveries, which frequently lead to missed pickups. Shippers who need loads picked up will turn to anyone who can provide that service, and they are usually willing to pay a higher rate. This equates to an opportunity for freight brokers to earn higher margins in the early days after a storm ends.


Even though the current storm will fade Friday night, snow showers could return to the Denver freight market by Sunday. Occasional closures on I-70 west of Denver are possible through the weekend. Early next week may be a good chance for brokers to pounce on freight that wasn’t picked up on time because of the weather. Denver is a healthy market right now.

FreightWaves SONAR shows plenty of outbound freight available (OTVI.DEN), indicated by the medium blue shading on the map directly above. Because there is an abundance of freight, tender rejections (OTRI.DEN) are fairly high, too, indicated by the height on the map. Carriers are turning down around 10% of outbound loads offered by shippers. In other words, carriers can be selective because there’s plenty of freight from which to choose.

Other notable weather

Look for moderate to heavy snowfall through this evening and some freezing rain, from West Virginia to Upstate New York and interior New England. Some parts of the Northeast and southern Quebec could pick up 12 to 24 inches with areas of ice accumulation. This includes places on Interstates 81 and 90, such as Buffalo, Rochester and Watertown, as well as Plattsburgh on Interstate 87.

SONAR Critical Events: Friday, Feb. 7, 2020; Northeast winter storm

Interstate 95 from Boston to Washington will be wet instead of white. However, strong winds will hit much of the Eastern Seaboard, even in places where it doesn’t snow or rain.

Heavy snowfall will return to the Cascades of Washington and Oregon late Friday night through Saturday. Snowqualmie and Stevens passes could become trouble spots again.

SONAR Critical Events: Friday, Feb. 7, 2020; Northwest snow and rain

Meanwhile, additional flooding is possible in western Washington as periods of heavy rain will keep drenching the lowlands, valleys and western slopes of the Cascades. Roadblocks are possible due not only to flooding, but also to potential mudslides and landslides.

Have a great day and a wonderful weekend. Please be careful out there!