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Stormy Christmas week ahead for truckers out West

Stormy Christmas week ahead for truckers out West

As much as 10 feet of snow could pile up in parts of the Mountain West by the end of Christmas weekend, making roads treacherous for travel.

Truckers making last-minute deliveries and trying to get home for the holiday are likely to hit delays as a series of storms slams areas from the Continental Divide to West Coast the rest of the week. The National Weather Service has issued all sorts of winter weather alerts across the region.

Related: Chaining up: 4 pro tips for truckers

The worst conditions will hit the Sierra Nevada, where 6 to 10 feet of snow could accumulate by Sunday afternoon. This will impact mountain passes along the Interstate 80 corridor, as well as the U.S. Highway 50, 95 and 395 corridors in the Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe and Truckee areas. Wind gusts in this region will exceed 50 mph at times, possibly reaching 100 mph along the Sierra ridges, producing periods of zero to near-zero visibility and blizzard conditions.

High winds and blowing snow will also hit parts of the Washington and Oregon Cascades, in addition to the central and northern Rockies. Drivers will also run into occasional whiteouts in these areas.

The following mountain passes will be some of the usual trouble spots: Donner, Carson, Yuba, McKenzie, Willamette, Santiam, Stevens, Snoqualmie and Lookout.

Meanwhile, heavy rain could cause flash flooding in some valleys and lowlands along and west of Interstate 5, from Washington to northern California. Some locations could pick up more than 5 inches of rain by the end of the week.

Related: A look back: 6 impactful weather events in 2021 transportation

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 5 from Bellingham, Washington, to Redding, California.
• Interstate 80 from Colfax, California, to Reno, Nevada.
• Interstate 90 from Missoula, Montana, to Seattle.

Other notable weather this week

Look for areas of mixed precipitation Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Great Lakes and Northeast. Accumulations will not likely be heavy, but some spots could become icy.

Heavy rain Thursday through Christmas Day will drench areas from San Francisco to Los Angeles and San Diego. Some places could see up to 4 inches of rain, leading to mudslides and flash flooding.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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22 December 2021, 23:00