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Nasty Nor'easter Still On Track To Slam New England


Whipping winds and rain

Ground and air freight will likely be delayed in the Northeast as a wet Nor'easter develops later today, October 16. Since FreightWaves first reported on the potential storm yesterday, the forecast hasn't changed much. However, the National Weather Service did add a Wind Advisory from Delaware to coastal Maine, as well as a Flash Flood Watch for northern New Jersey.

SONAR Critical Events: Nor'easter impact area, October 16-18

A low pressure cell over the Outer Banks of North Carolina will head to the Mid-Atlantic and New England tonight into Thursday. The worst of the storm will begin this evening as the storm quickly intensifies, likely "bombing out" – pressure dropping at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less – overnight/early Thursday. This rapid pressure drop, or deepening, will lead to powerful winds because pressure and wind are directly related.

Wind damage and beach erosion, as well as coastal flooding from heavy rain and storm surge will probably occur from the Delmarva Peninsula to Maine. Wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph could blow down trees and utility lines, leading to scattered power outages and roadblocks. The strongest winds and heaviest damage will likely be confined to areas from eastern Long Island to Boston, Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, as well as the New Hampshire and Maine coasts.

There is a silver lining – the Nor'easter will be a fairly quick mover and should begin to lose steam tomorrow afternoon or evening, October 17. Also, the storm won't produce a crippling blizzard, and it will be centered just enough offshore to prevent a widespread disaster across all of the Northeast.

Flooding continues in upper Midwest 

Flooding continues on the Red River along the North Dakota-Minnesota border. This is due to runoff from recent snowmelt after last week's major storm, in addition to rainfall yesterday. The river is at moderate/major flood stage in several locations where it will crest between today and this weekend. In other spots, the river will recede.

SONAR Critical Events: Wednesday, October 16, 10:00 a.m. EDT

So far, no closures have been reported on I-29 due to flooding. However, a few state routes are blocked off.

Other weather today, October 16

Scattered showers and thunderstorms will roll across the northern Gulf Coast, but should stay below severe limits with few, if any, areas of flash flooding.

Look for periods of rain and snow across the Pacific Northwest. Winds will be strong enough to produce high surf along the coast.

There's an increasing risk of wildfires sparking in Utah, southeastern Wyoming and Colorado today and tomorrow. Very dry conditions and severe drought will make it easy for fires to start. Gusty winds of 40 to 45 mph may cause new and existing fires to spread out of control. The crosswinds and headwinds may also make driving difficult on portions of I-15, I-25, I-70 and I-80.

Additional notes

A 115-mile stretch of Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) track remains out of service in Missouri between Kansas City and Moberly. This is due to flooding and a logjam that caused the collapse of the Norfolk Southern bridge over the Grand River in Brunswick, Missouri earlier this month. 

The collapse of the railroad bridge has resulted in some freight volume shifting to trucks, especially in the Quincy, Illinois market.

While the logjam that took out the bridge on October 2 came from the northwest direction in the Kansas City market, SONAR data from FreightWaves shows that truckload capacity and volumes have had the greatest movement in smaller markets to the east. Following the heavy rainstorm (RAIN.UIN) on September 28, which resulted in the Grand River rising 20 feet the following day, followed by the bridge collapse, truckload capacity on mid-haul (250- to 450-mile length of haul) lanes jumped 908 basis points to 37.70%. This includes loads to Chicago and Indianapolis, main destinations on the main Norfolk Southern line.


Quincy outbound tender volumes have increased 15.22% in the last two weeks, along with the average outbound length of haul rising 20% to 510 miles over the same timeframe. Carriers are also traveling from further afield to service the increased demand created by the bridge collapse – the average inbound length of haul has spiked 45% to 553 miles this week.

According to Norfolk Southern, repairs on the Grand River Bridge could take another three to four weeks, lasting until early- or mid-November. Even though Norfolk Southern has entered into agreements with interline partners to detour freight traffic around Brunswick, shippers in the Kansas City, Jefferson City and Quincy freight markets are finding truckload capacity to service short-term demand.

Tropical update

A disorganized cluster of thunderstorms in the Bay of Campeche, off the coast of Veracruz, Mexico, has a decent chance of becoming the next tropical depression or tropical storm. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) peggs the odds at just 30% between now and Friday morning, October 18. However, the chance increases to 50% this weekend, with the storm possibility drenching parts of the U.S. northern Gulf Coast next week. An Air Force reconnaissance plane, or "Hurricane Hunter," is scheduled to investigate the disturbance this afternoon.

SONAR Critical Events: Possible area of tropical development, October 16-20

Have a great day, and be careful out there!

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