An early season snowstorm continues to plow through northern Rockies, lasting through tonight and early Thursday, October 9. FreightWaves has been reporting on this impending storm since the beginning of the week. Winter Storm Watches and Warnings posted by the National Weather Service (NWS) will remain posted until the storm has cleared the region.
Snow amounts and timing
Heavy snowfall will keep coming down today, October 9, across much of Montana and Wyoming. This will make travel on I-15, I-90 and I-94 very risky for truckers. The Montana Department of Transportation has already reported storm-related tractor-trailer accidents on interstates and other routes.
The highest snow totals will likely be in the following areas: Beartooth and Crazy Mountains of Montana, including Cooke City which is just north of the Montana-Wyoming border on US-212; Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming, including Burgess Junction on US-14, about 50 miles west of Sheridan and I-15. These areas could get 12 to 18 inches in all. Many slopes around Helena, Great Falls, Lewistown, Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Butte, Dillon, Cody and Casper could get socked with six to 12 inches. Some valleys may only receive up to six inches, but roads in these areas will still be slick and visibility will be limited at times.
Winds will gust to 40 mph in many locations, leading to occasional white-out conditions due to blowing snow. The combination of deteriorating travel conditions, along with possible downed trees and power lines, may lead to roadblocks that could last up to 24 hours. The storm is also likely to disrupt operations at several international airports and oil/petroleum facilities in the region. These are indicated by the red dots and “doughnuts” on the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map above, representing a forecasted “High” risk of disruptions; orange represents a “Medium” risk.
The storm will remain powerful as it moves into the Dakotas tonight, possibly lasting through Friday. Places like Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Rapid City will see six to 12 inches snowfall totals with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. Meanwhile, 12 to 18 inches will pile up in the high elevations around Sundance, Spearfish and Deadwood.
After the Dakotas, the storm will make its way into western Minnesota around Friday afternoon, October 11, where the NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch. Several inches of snow with near-blizzard/blizzard conditions are in the forecast.
Other weather today
Away from the snowstorm, strong crosswinds will give drivers problems from southeastern Idaho into the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah. Northwesterly gust of 45 to 55 mph will make deadheading risky on I-80 and I-84, as well as areas west of I-15.
Severe thunderstorms could produce isolated tornadoes, damaging winds or large hail in a few spots from Wichita Falls to Kansas City and Omaha. Heavy storms could cause flash flooding in parts of the Florida Peninsula.
Supply chains will be impacted by planned power outages today across a large portion of California. Because of very dry and windy weather, there’s an extreme threat for wildfire development from Santa Barbara and Bakersfield northward to Redding. This includes the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento metropolitan areas. According to KTVU-TV, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (NYSE: PCG) has already cut off electricity to a few hundred thousand customers this morning, with total outages likely exceeding 750,000.
A section of Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) rail is out of service in Missouri between Moberly and Kansas City because of logjams and debris strikes to the Grand River bridge in Brunswick, Missouri. Shippers operating through this area should expect delays of at least 48 to 72 hours.
Some lanes and ramps of the I-10 bridge over the San Jacinto River are still closed. This is just east of Houston and is due to damage during last month’s flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, repairs may not be finished until early 2020.
Super Typhoon Hagibis is still trudging across the western Pacific Ocean. Its maximum sustained winds have returned to 160 mph after a very slight weakening yesterday. Hagibis will stay strong for the next few days, losing some steam by the weekend.
However, Hagibis could still pose a threat to Japan, possibly making landfall close to Tokyo Bay on Saturday, October 12. Winds at that time could be as high as 80 to 100 mph. This would have a significant impact on the major port of Tokyo. Shippers should keep track of Hagibis and expect delays through lanes in the northern Philippine Sea and possibly the Sea of Japan. Look for more updates through the remainder of the week on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts.
Have a great day, and be careful out there!