Weekend truckers face severe storm threat in heartland

Semi with white trailer and dark storm cloud across the sky.

Truckers will hit more areas of severe storms the next few days from the Plains all the way to the Ohio Valley. While a major outbreak with numerous tornadoes is unlikely, drivers should still pay attention and remain weather aware.

Many parts of the Plains and Midwest have already been slammed by severe weather this week, with more than 900 reports of wind damage, large hail and tornadoes since Monday from Texas to the Great Lakes. Gusty winds even kicked up a dust storm in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

A cold front will move slowly through the same regions Friday through Sunday, triggering more potent storms.


The potential target zone Friday stretches almost 900 miles from Oklahoma City to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Not every spot will see a severe storm, but hail at least 1 inch in diameter and wind gusts exceeding 60 mph will be scattered. The overall threat level is a 2 out of 5, with 5 being the worst case scenario. A few tornadoes may pop up and will be isolated.

Other cities that could see severe weather include Kansas City and Jefferson City, Missouri; Cedar Rapids and Davenport, Iowa; Madison and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

As with most severe thunderstorms, localized torrential rain can lead to flash flooding and potential road closures.


Before we talk about Saturday, let’s skip ahead. The potential severe storm impact area Sunday will expand as it shifts to the south and east and again includes eastern Oklahoma and Kansas, as well as central Missouri.

Other places at risk Sunday include St. Louis; Little Rock, Arkansas; northern Mississippi; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky; Pittsburgh; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; in addition to southern Illinois.

Like Friday, severe storms will be scattered and tornadoes few and far between with an overall level 2 risk.


Severe storms may hit some of the same areas Saturday as Friday and Sunday, but as of Friday morning, the Storm Prediction Center pegged the overall odds at only a level 1. The tornado chance was listed as less than 2%.

The best defense for truckers is for them to set the weather apps on their mobile devices to “GPS” or “location” mode. This way they will receive local severe weather warnings no matter where they are along their routes.

Major lanes of concern

  • Interstate 40 from Oklahoma City to Nashville.
  • Interstate 44 from Oklahoma City to St. Louis.
  • Interstate 55 from St. Louis to Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Interstate 70 from Kansas City to Columbus.
  • Interstate 80 from Des Moines to Davenport.
  • Interstate 90 in Wisconsin from La Crosse to Madison.

Look for very windy weather and an elevated risk of rollovers Friday from western Minnesota to North Dakota and northern South Dakota. Gusts will reach 65 mph in some spots.

Gusts up to 60 mph will hit western Montana on Friday, especially along the Rocky Mountain Front, where snow will continue to impact travel over mountain passes.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Source: freightwaves - Weekend truckers face severe storm threat in heartland
Editor: Nick Austin