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High wind threat spreading across Plains

Truckers face an elevated risk of rollovers Thursday from the southern Plains into the Desert Southwest.

A potent low pressure system and associated cold front will sweep through the region, producing high winds from portions of Oklahoma to central and western Texas, as well as eastern and western New Mexico.

The National Weather Service has issued wind advisories for these areas, with a more serious high wind warning in parts of western Texas. Gusts in these areas will reach 45 to 60 mph at times until late Thursday evening, including places such as Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, Wichita Falls, Junction and El Paso, Texas, in addition to Carlsbad, Clayton and Grants, New Mexico. 

Look for gusts of 35 to 45 mph in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.

Drivers who are deadheading — hauling empty trailers — will be most at risk for rollovers. However, crosswinds exceeding 40 mph could cause trouble even for drivers with full truckloads due to the large surface areas of the trailers, which act like sails.

Unfortunately, this weather system won’t produce much rain as it moves across drought-stricken areas. The NWS also has red flag warnings in place because the combination of very dry ground, low humidity and strong winds will increase the chance of wildfires and brush fires.

These are a few things that truckers can do to prevent fires: Avoid flicking cigarettes out the window, avoid parking in grass, and avoid dragging chains. Any of these could produce a spark that may start a fire, which winds could spread quickly out of control.

Another potential issue is blowing dust that could lead to periods of reduced visibility until winds die down Thursday night.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 10 in Texas from El Paso to San Antonio.
• Interstate 20 from the Interstate 10 junction to Dallas-Fort Worth.
• Interstate 27 in Texas from Lubbock to Amarillo.
• Interstate 35 from Dallas-Fort Worth to Oklahoma City.
• Interstate 40 from Gallup, New Mexico, to Oklahoma City.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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