Strong winter storm continues track across northern US (with forecast video)

Snow plow on Minnesota highway.

The last weekend of 2019 was treacherous as a strong winter storm hit parts of the Great Plains and Midwest. As of this morning, Dec. 30, the following sections of interstate highways are closed, but may reopen sometime today:

  • I-80 in Nebraska, from Grand Island to North Platte
  • I-29 from Watertown, South Dakota to the Canadian border
  • I-90 in South Dakota, from just west of Sioux Falls to Rapid City
  • I-94 in North Dakota, from Fargo to Bismarck
SONAR Critical Events and radar: Monday, December 30, 2019, 10 a.m. EST

The storm dumped mounds of snowfall from Nebraska to eastern North Dakota. Totals of 8 to 12 inches were common, but several locations reported more than 12 inches. The snowfall will wind down today in the Great Plains, but strong wind will be an issue across the Dakotas today. Gusts of 40 to 50 mph will result in blowing/drifting snow, ground blizzards, and white-out conditions.

On the cusp of the new year today and into tomorrow, Dec. 31, moderate to heavy snowfall will continue across much of Minnesota, Wisconsin and upper Michigan today, spreading into lower Michigan tonight, as well as northern portions of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Shippers, carriers and drivers should expect possible delays on roads, rails and runways of what little year-end freight is available.

Looking at FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events, any air cargo at Hector International Airport (ICAO code: FAR) in Fargo, North Dakota has the highest chance of delays. This is indicated by the red color coding on the map above. The storm will also make it difficult to load/unload freight at some intermodal ramps inside the highlighted region on the same map. Disruptions at port operations in Duluth are likely.

While this storm is making trouble in the Midwest today, snow, sleet and freezing rain will continue to make travel hazardous from upstate New York to New England. This includes parts of I-95 from Massachusetts to Maine. Areas from southeastern New York state to western Massachusetts could see ice accumulation up to one-third of an inch thick. Tree limbs and utility lines may buckle under the weight of the ice, leading to road closures and power outages. The storm will linger into Tuesday, mainly in northern New England, with snow totals approaching 10 inches in parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Monday, December 30, 2019, 10 a.m. EST

Delays/cancellations are possible at several airport during and after the storm, including Bradley International (ICAO code: BDL), Albany International (ICAO code: ALB) and Manchester-Boston Regional (ICAO code: MHT). Operations may be slowed down a bit at the ports of Hartford, Worcester and Portsmouth.

Looking Ahead

As 2020 begins, most of the snowy weather will be in the Rockies and Cascades from Jan. 1 through Jan. 3. Preliminary forecasts show some areas receiving 12 to 24 inches during the three-day period, with isolated spots exceeding 24 inches. Meanwhile, heavy rainfall could soak the South on Jan. 2 and Jan 3.

Have a great day, and be careful out there!