Truckers still dealing with heavy rains, high winds in several states (with forecast video)

Tractor-trailer heading down wet highway.

High winds will pummel areas of the nation’s heartland today, while downpours continue to soak the South. Truckers run the risk of rollovers or getting stuck in flash flooding, resulting in safety concerns and freight flow delays.

What to expect

High winds gusting in the range of 40 to 55 mph will make deadheading or hauling light loads a bit risky in the Upper Midwest and Missouri River Valley, increasing the chance for rollovers from Bismarck and Fargo, North Dakota to Sioux Falls, Des Moines, Omaha and Kansas City. Northwesterly crosswinds will mostly affect drivers on east-west highways like Interstates 70, 80, 90 and 94, but may also make driving rough on sections of I-29 and I-35.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued wind advisories for these areas. Winds should die down by late afternoon, and the advisories are scheduled to expire by 6 p.m. CST.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Wednesday, Mar. 4, 2020, 10:00 a.m. EST; High wind threat

Flooding rains will continue to soak parts of the Southeast through this evening from Mississippi to the Carolinas, mainly in areas along and south of the I-20 corridor. Some areas have been slammed with several inches of rainfall this week, along with flooding. But frequent rains started last month.

Chattanooga, where FreightWaves is headquartered, had its wettest February on record with 11.45 inches of rainfall; Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia had their second-wettest Februarys; and Jackson, Mississippi had its third-wettest February.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Wednesday, Mar. 4, 2020, 10:00 a.m. EST; Severe thunderstorm threat

Thunderstorms may produce isolated tornadoes, large hail and severe winds in places like Dothan, Alabama; Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida; Valdosta and Brunswick, Georgia; and areas in between.

Impact on freight

High winds in the nation’s heartland will mostly blow across low-volume markets that few truckers will be entering to pick up loads. So the strong gusts will mostly affect drivers dropping off within the impact zone outlined in red on the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map near the top of this article. The wind will also affect long-haul drivers making trips between the Midwest and the West or Northwest regions, or drivers on regional runs within the impact zone.

SONAR Tickers: OTVI map (left), OTVIW map (right)

The exception is the Kansas City market, where volumes are fairly strong. Let’s look at the outbound tender volume index (OTVI.MCI) on the left-hand FreightWaves SONAR map directly above. Kansas City, circled in red, ranks 23rd in the nation with an index value of 146.57. This value moves in proportion to the total observable outbound tender volumes in each of the 135 freight markets. So there’s a fairly high number of available loads for carriers in Kansas City despite its volumes decreasing slightly, by 3.37%, over the past week. This is shown on the right-hand map which is displaying the weekly change in outbound tender market volume (OTVIW).

Down south, drivers may run into delays heading to Atlanta (circled in yellow), the top market for volumes right now in the country. Other southern markets aren’t doing as well as Atlanta, but have seen some increasing volumes lately.

Other notable weather

Some minor disruptions in freight flows are possible as a storm tracks across the Great Lakes region today and tonight. The heaviest snowfall and strongest winds will likely hit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, including the city of Marquette, which is located mostly within the low-volume Duluth, Minnesota freight market. This snowfall will shift into portions of the Ohio River Valley and the Northeast on Friday.

Have a great day, and be careful out there!