At Least Six People Were Killed in a Dust Storm in Montana!
At least six people were killed and others were injured in southern Montana in a major car pileup on Friday afternoon during a windstorm that kicked up dust and caused “near-blackout conditions,” the authorities said.
Sgt. Jay Nelson, a spokesman for the Montana Highway Patrol, said in an interview that 21 vehicles, including six semi-trucks, were involved in the crash on Interstate 90 near Hardin, Mont., a town of 3,800 people about 50 miles east of Billings. He said it wasn’t clear right away how many people had been hurt.
The victims’ names and ages were not released right away by the police.
“Everything is indicating there was an isolated weather event that caused near-blackout conditions at this location,” Sergeant Nelson said. “A dust storm in the area with extremely high winds is the preliminary cause of the crash.”
On Friday afternoon, thunderstorms in the area produced strong surging winds known as outflows, which travel about 30 miles ahead of the storms, said Nick Vertz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings.
Late in the afternoon, there were wind gusts of 62 miles per hour that picked up dust and reduced visibility to less than a quarter of a mile, he said. Typically, the wind gusts produced by these storms are 30 to 40 miles per hour, Mr. Vertz said.
The accident happened around 4:30 p.m., and traffic on Interstate 90 was stopped while the highway patrol looked into it. As of 9 p.m., the eastbound lanes were still closed, and officials were sending traffic in a different direction.
Gov. Greg Gianforte said on Twitter late Friday that he was “deeply saddened” by the news of a crash near Hardin that killed a lot of people.
“Please join me in prayer to lift up the victims and their loved ones,” he said. “We’re grateful to our first responders for their service.”
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