As if it wasn’t enough that some of America’s truckers were missing Thanksgiving with their families to keep the shelves and storerooms full, now they have to deal with mother nature.
A big snowstorm, the first of its kind this year, is set to blanket the Sierra Nevada Mountains. While many people are digging into turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce, truckers in areas like Lake Tahoe or Yosemite National Park should expect slippery conditions past the afternoon.
Eastern California and Western Nevada are both popular areas for freight routes, meaning freight companies who have already sent their drivers in that direction may want to reconsider the route. And those who are set on making deliveries to that area should proceed with extreme caution.
The freak storm is expected to affect I-80 through Donner Pass. It could also cause slippery and dangerous conditions in numerous other nearby areas. Some of the affected areas could include Sonora Pass, Mount Rose Highway, Expect Ebbetts Pass, Tioga Pass, and many more. Some may be closed if things get bad enough, as the snow forecast and cold temperatures could make roads icy within a short period of time.
There’s another threat to be aware of that most passenger vehicles don’t have to worry as much about. That threat is high winds. When a trucker is traveling with a trailer in tow, especially one that isn’t weighted down with freight, it is very easy for the wind to move the container. And given that a bit of unexpected movement is all it takes to trigger slipping on ice, the slightest breeze in the wrong conditions can be catastrophic.
Late November isn’t exactly an odd time for snow in this area. On mountain tops at the highest points of elevation, it isn’t uncommon for several feet of snow to have accumulated by this time. The mixed climate can stop a lot of it from staying snow when it reaches highways, but colder temperatures and increased chance of precipitation may be the perfect storm – both literally and figuratively – to make life tough for truckers.
Some meteorologists say that this time of year can produce over a foot of snow when the elevation is above 8,000 feet. It’s been about a month-and-a-half since the area saw any kind of serious precipitation. And mountain snow could also lead to valley rain. While the precipitation may not mean some of the lower areas get snow, they could see some flooding issues.
It isn’t uncommon for trucks to get completely picked up and moved around by high waters. This was a constant problem when truckers tried to help out with the relief effort in areas hit hard during the last U.S. hurricane season.
Total snow accumulation for this storm could be between six and 15 inches at areas above 7,000 feet, with some areas seeing as much as 20 inches. The bulk of the snow is supposed to hit Wednesday evening through Thanksgiving morning.