High-impact winter storm threat from Great Plains to Great Lakes

Snow, ice and blizzard conditions will impact supply chains for days across a huge swath of the U.S., from the Great Plains to the Great Lakes.

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A storm system is projected to intensify Wednesday and Thursday across the southern Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes. With frigid arctic air already draped across some of these areas and headed to others, the ingredients are coming together for a potentially major ice and snow storm.

Based on the latest model guidance Tuesday morning, the favored areas for freezing rain would be from northern Texas to areas along and just north of the Ohio Valley. Ice accumulations of one-fourth to one-third of an inch are possible.

The zone of heaviest snow looks to be from central Missouri, including St. Louis, to southern Michigan, including Detroit. Snow totals will range from 10 to 18 inches in the hardest-hit areas, with isolated totals in excess of 18 inches.

The National Weather Service said the impacts in these areas may be “major” or “extreme,” based on its Winter Storm Severity Index.

In combination with some gusty winds reaching 35 to 45 mph in some spots, this will make travel extremely difficult due to blowing snow and reduced visibility. Ice will weigh down tree limbs and electrical lines, leading to possible widespread power outages and long-term road closures.

NWS winter storm alerts have been issued as far south and west as Dallas and El Paso, Texas, and parts of Colorado and New Mexico and as far north and east as interior New England. This is a distance of more than 1,800 miles. Carriers, shippers and customers should prepare for major supply chain issues during the storm and for a few days after the storm due to its potentially far-reaching impacts.

Related: Chaining up: 4 pro tips for truckers

Major interstates in the storm’s likely path include I-35, I-40, I-44, I-55, I-69, I-70, I-72, I-80 and I-90. Impacts will include a variety of issues ranging from reduced speeds to major slowdowns or even multiday road closures. Delays in air cargo, in addition to loading and unloading at intermodal ramps, are likely.

Major cities and freight hubs in the potential impact zone include Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Dallas-Fort Worth; St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri; Chicago; Indianapolis; Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Detroit; Cleveland; Buffalo, New York; as well as Toronto.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 35 from Wichita, Kansas, to Austin, Texas.
• Interstate 40 from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
• Interstate 44 from Oklahoma City to St. Louis.
• Interstate 55 from Memphis to Chicago.
• Interstate 64 from St. Louis to Huntington, West Virginia.
• Interstate 70 from Denver to Columbus, Ohio.
• Interstate 90 from Chicago to Syracuse, New York.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Source: https://www.freightwaves.com/news
Editor: Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist