Snowstorm heading toward a few large freight markets (with forecast video)

Plow trucks getting ready before an Indiana snowstorm.

A snowstorm is cranking across parts of the Great Plains and is still on track to slam a few large freight markets in the Midwest. FreightWaves first mentioned this potential storm in a Monday article. For the most part, the storm is panning out as expected so far.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020; Midwest-Northeast winter storm

The jet stream will push the storm across northern Oklahoma to the Midwest and parts of the eastern Great Lakes Wednesday, then to upstate New York, New England and eastern Canada Wednesday night through Thursday.

Snowfall of varying intensities will hit places like Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City, Missouri; Springfield, Chicago and Joliet, Illinois; Indianapolis; Detroit; Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo and Rochester, New York; Burlington, Vermont; Hartford, Connecticut; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Portland, Maine; and Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Saint John and Charlottetown, Canada. Some areas may see light freezing rain changing to snow and/or snow changing to rain.

Snowfall totals of 3 to 6 inches will be common across the Midwestern locations in the impact zone. However, a few pockets of higher amounts are possible. Totals of 8 to 12 inches could pile up from northwestern Pennsylvania to parts of upstate New York, with more than 12 inches possible in parts of the Adirondacks, Green Mountains and White Mountains.

Drivers may run into delays on several interstate highways, including I-55, I-57, I-65, I-70, I-74, I-75, I-80, I-86, I-87, I-90, I-94, I-95 (far north) and the Trans-Canada Highway. Gusty winds will result in blowing snow and occasional whiteout conditions in some spots, but blizzard conditions are not likely.

This is not a major winter storm, but it will be enough to cause transportation issues as well as short-term interruptions of supply chains and business operations at the local and regional levels. It’s also worth noting that the storm will hit five freight markets leading the way in terms of available freight.

SONAR Ticker: OTMS Tree Map

As of Tuesday, these markets were Joliet; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Detroit; and Chicago. The latest FreightWaves SONAR data show them in the top 13 highest values of outbound tender market share (OTMS), which measures the percentage of a market’s outbound volume relative to the rest of the U.S., which has 135 freight markets.

Joliet (OTMS.JOT) ranks sixth at 2.71%; Columbus (OTMS.CMH) ranks 10th at 2.22%; Indianapolis (OTMS.IND) is in 11th with 2.04%; Detroit (OTMS.DTW) is in 12th with 1.88%; and Chicago (OTMS.CHI) is in 13th with 1.85%. On the tree map directly above, each market’s share is indicated under its percentage change from the previous day. The larger the market share, the larger the square/rectangle. Combined, the Joliet, Columbus, Indianapolis, Detroit and Chicago markets currently account for about 10.7% of the nation’s outbound freight.

Fortunately, impacts of this storm will be fairly short term in the Midwest. While roads may remain slick for a day or two after the storm passes, freight flows should be smoother by the weekend. Another storm may move through the Great Lakes early next week, but preliminary indications show mostly rain for major market areas.

Other notable weather

Heavy rainfall could flood parts of the South today and tonight, from eastern Texas to the northern Gulf Coast, Tennessee Valley and Ohio Valley. Drivers may run into closed roads and ramps, especially in places such as Texarkana, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee; Huntsville, Alabama; and eastern Kentucky.

SONAR Critical Events: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020; Southern flooding-thunderstorm threat

Thunderstorms may produce severe winds and isolated tornadoes from the Louisiana coast to eastern Tennessee.

Looking ahead

Another round of heavy mountain snowfall and potentially flooding rainfall could return to the Pacific Northwest this weekend, lasting into early next week.

SONAR Critical Events: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020; Northwest weekend storm

By the time the storm fades next Monday, high elevations in British Columbia, Washington state, Oregon and Idaho may see 2 to 4 feet of total snowfall. In the valleys, rainfall totals will register in the 1- to 3-inch range, with isolated totals of 4 inches or more. These totals may result in flooding and mudslides, especially on and near westward-facing slopes in western Oregon and western Washington. In addition to the precip, some strong winds could slam some lower elevations.

Have a great day, and be careful out there!