Snowstorms continue to hammer Pacific Northwest (with forecast video)

Tractor-trailer moving through snowy area.

Old Man Winter is not playing nicely, maintaining a snowy, slushy and icy mess in the mountains of the Northwest. This may add to freight movement issues in the region as the weather stays cold and roads remain hazardous.


The latest FreightWaves SONAR data, in the map above, shows outbound tender rejections for reefers (ROTRI.URNW) as well as inbound tender rejections for reefers (RITRI.URNW) for the Northwest region are at 23.25% and 21.85%, respectively. Each is higher than its national average by 7 to 8 percentage points. Reefers are climate-controlled trailers; tender rejections refer to the percentage of electronically offered loads by shippers that carriers turn down for various reasons.

Carriers may be rejecting a fair amount of outbound and inbound loads right now because, when bad weather hits a region, carriers who travel in and out of that region on a regular basis react the same into and out of that region. This also could be a function of where they’re going. Some carriers are dedicated to the Northwest, but freight is sometimes hard to come by there. This, combined with frequent snowstorms, can keep drivers stranded.

The current storm (which got cranking overnight) will gradually fade today, but not before 10 inches or more of snowfall piles up in the high elevations of the Washington and northern Oregon Cascades, as well as the Olympics. Look for heavy snowfall in the Cascades of southwestern Canada too (British Columbia). Locations as low as 3,000 feet could see a few inches of snowfall preceded by light freezing rain. Even after the storm dies down, compact snow and ice will keep roads very slick.

Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 and Stevens Pass on US-2 could be problem spots for drivers. Strong winds in the southern Washington and northern Oregon Cascades will result in blowing snow and occasional whiteout conditions.

More snow will also fall in the Rockies of northern Idaho and western Montana, including Lookout Pass on I-90.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2019, 11 a.m. EST. Northwest winter storm threat.

As the mountains turn white, the valleys and lowlands get wet. Heavy rainfall will soak portions of the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Portland, in addition to a few coastal areas on the US-101 corridor.

Tomorrow, another storm probably will produce more mountain snow and valley rain in some of the same areas tomorrow, possibly followed by another storm late in the week.

Besides drivers having to slow down or stop due to potential roadblocks, the harsh conditions may delay air cargo at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (ICAO code: SEA). The storms may also slow down loading/unloading at intermodal ramps in the region, and periodic disruptions in supply chains and business operations at the local and regional levels are likely.

Other areas of winter weather

Another area of heavy snow, with pockets of freezing rain, will move across the southern Plains. This will mainly affect I-35 north of Oklahoma City into Kansas. Then, the snowfall shifts into Missouri overnight, likely fading by tomorrow afternoon as it approaches the Ohio Valley.

Have a great day, and be careful out there