Snowstorms this week to cause more trouble for Northwest truckers (with forecast video)

Snowplows clearing a road in California.

It’s winter, so disruptive weather is practically a way of life for many truckers across the U.S. This week, a few regions – namely the Northwest, Midwest and Northeast – will be the targets of storms that may result in periods of minor to moderate delays of freight movement on interstates. Carriers, shippers and brokers should plan ahead to get the most bang for their bucks.


The seemingly never-ending train of snowstorms will keep cranking across the Northwest this week. It’s a pattern that hasn’t stopped since the beginning of the year, and some spots could get buried in at least a few more feet of snowfall this week. Most of it will fall today, Jan. 13, then again later this week.

SONAR Critical Events on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, 10 a.m. EST. Ongoing Northwest snowstorm threat.

Some high elevations could see another 12 inches or more today through tomorrow morning. This is mainly for the Cascades of Oregon, southern Washington and possibly northern California, as well as the Rockies of northern Idaho and western Montana. Occasionally, winds will be strong enough to blow the snow around and cause whiteout conditions.

Sections of I-90 and US-2 have been closed from time to time over the past several days, mostly in Washington. Additional closures over Snoqualmie and Lookout passes as well as Stevens Pass are possible throughout this week. Speaking of Stevens Pass, which is on US-2, the Washington state DOT says to “forget about it.” Eastbound lanes are off-limits as of this morning. Occasionally this week, storms will also be quite strong along I-80 heading from the Reno-Lake Tahoe areas into the Sierra Nevada of eastern California.

Truckers in some of the lower elevations of the Northwest may run into light to moderate snowfall today and tonight, from Spokane to the I-84 corridor along the Washington-Oregon border. Snow could even reach the valley floors across the region at times this week.

Carriers, shippers and brokers can use FreightWaves Critical Events to keep track of assets such as airports, rails, oil/petroleum facilities and ports that lie in the target zone of any high-impact or long-term storm systems. As shown on the FreightWaves Critical Events maps in this article, the assets are color coded based on the anticipated level of disruption. Weather forecast details and National Weather Service alerts are also available. It’s a one-screen, comprehensive snapshot of the weather stories not only for the day, buy for the coming days.

While the mountains of the Northwest get buried with snow, some lowlands and coastal communities of Washington and Oregon could get drenched with periods of heavy rainfall. Rainfall over the past couple of weeks has increased soil moisture to high levels, especially across western Washington state. Additional rainfall would put extra pressure on soil instability and could trigger more landslides and potential road closures.

Midwest and Northeast

Portions of I-90 and I-81 may become icy in upstate New York as light freezing rain continues today and early this evening. Be extra careful from Buffalo to Jamestown, Rochester and Watertown.

SONAR Critical Events on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, 10 a.m. EST. Northeast freezing rain threat.

A fairly quick burst of freezing rain and snowfall could cause problems tonight on I-35 from Des Moines to Minneapolis-St. Paul, with snowfall on I-94 from Minneapolis-St. Paul  into Wisconsin. This event should only take six to eight hours to move from west to east across these areas. A much more significant storm could produce ice buildup, heavy snowfall and gusty winds across the Midwest around midweek, followed by a nor’easter in New England on Thursday. The timing and intensity of this potential storm could change as forecast details are tweaked over the next day or two. Look for weather updates all week on the FreightWaves website and social media sites.


Scattered areas of heavy rainfall will hit the South from time to time this week, including today. Severe thunderstorms could produce isolated spots of large hail and flash flooding from Louisiana to the southern Appalachians. The good news is, at this time, forecast models indicate no sign of significant severe weather outbreaks like the one that occurred over the weekend.

Have a great day and a wonderful week and be careful out there!