Snowstorms returning soon for Northwest truckers

Highway department truck with "Chains Required" sign along a snowy California road.

After about a week of quiet weather, another series of snowstorms will return to the mountains of the northwestern U.S. and southwestern Canada beginning Friday.

Some parts of the region had more than 6 feet of snowfall over a week’s time, from a series of storms that ended late last weekend. This next parade of storms may not produce as much snow. However, truckers will still have to chain up, hitting delays at times through the Cascades and Sierra Nevada during the next seven to 10 days.

When all is said and done with this extended event, snowfall totals could approach 36 inches in the higher elevations of the Cascades in Washington, Oregon and northern California, as well as the Sierra Nevada. Isolated higher totals are possible. Some of the storms will produce gusty winds, leading to occasional blowing snow and whiteout conditions.

Main interstates within the potential impact zone include I-5, I-80, I-84 and I-90, as well as U.S. highways 2, 12, 26, 50, 97, 199 and 395.

Meanwhile, heavy rainfall will drench valleys and lower elevations of the Northwest, with totals of up to 4 inches. The heaviest rainfall will likely hit from I-5 to the coast, including Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Additionally, the heavier rainfall may cause localized higher impacts due to flooding and mudslides, also impacting U.S. Highway 101.

Other notable weather

Watch out for heavy snowfall and periods of whiteout conditions Thursday in the high elevations of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. This storm will impact travel on U.S. Highway 550, known as the Million Dollar Highway, as well as U.S. highways 84 and 160. Some tricky spots include Silverton, Rico and Hesperus, Colorado, and Chama, New Mexico. At the same time, light to moderate snow will hit parts of I-25, between Denver and Colorado Springs.

Strong wind gusts of 50 to 70 mph will increase the risk of rollovers Thursday and Friday in far northern California and southern Oregon. This will affect drivers on sections of I-5, from Weed, California, to Medford, Oregon.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.