Weather updates for this week give us Nick Austin, senior meteorologist and director of Weather analytics.
Usually, snow and ice are causing the necessity for slowing down on the road during the winter time. Although these sort of problems for truckers will probably happen in some parts of the country, this week’s real threat is flooding, mainly in Southeast. It is almost certain that there will be road closures, as well as property damage to homes and businesses.
How long it lasts and what to expect
A frontal boundary will stall across a large portion of the Southeast just about all week. Momentarily there’s still uncertainty as to exactly where this feature will end up. What is known is that waves of energy will move along the front, producing daily periods of heavy rainfall across various parts of the region.
It is expected that the heaviest rainfall will be right along the stalled front, where totals of six to eight inches are forecast, with pockets of higher amounts possible. At the moment the largest totals will probably occur from northeastern Arkansas and the Memphis area to the Cumberland Plateau just west of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Rainfall will convert into runoff
Considering the saturated ground conditions in many places from recent rains, much of the impending rainfall will immediately convert into runoff. This will overwhelm the natural drainage processes, leading to flash flooding potential at the onset of the heavy rain, followed by widespread river flooding across the region later in the week.
On the other hand, depending on exactly where the front stalls, nearly all of the river gauges on the Tennessee River, as well as many in the lower Mississippi river Valley, could reach flood stage at some point this week; tributaries, too. But how many waterways may reach “moderate” or “major” flood stage remains uncertain.
Flood warning coming from NOAA
The reason why all drivers should be careful is that according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), flooding caused the second-most number of weather-related deaths in the U.S., on average, from 1988-2017.
Flood Warnings and Flood Advisories have already been posted across parts of the the Mississippi and Tennessee River valleys, with more likely throughout the week. The latest updates to these official National Weather Service (NWS) alerts can be found on this interactive map.
The effect of weather on Freight Movement
Although only extreme weather impacts on transport systems, drivers should have in mind that there’s a possibility of temporary delays due to road closures during this week’s event. The major routes that could be affected the most are I-40 from Little Rock to Nashville and I-65 from Nashville to Huntsville. Also, it’s possible that some secondary routes will be blocked, too. Best advice for Carries is to find alternate routes for their drivers, if possible.
Truckers and other drivers shouldn’t go through areas that look flooded, even if “Road Closed” signs or other barricades haven’t been set up.