storm causes chain crashes in Montana, six dead

Six people died after a dust storm fueled by wind gusts exceeding 60 mph (97 km/h) caused a multiple collision on Interstate 90 in Montana in the northwestern United States, authorities said.

Twenty-one vehicles collided Friday afternoon, and Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jay Nelson said authorities believe weather was the cause.

“It looks like there are strong winds, causing a dust storm with zero visibility,” he said.

While the highway patrol did not have an immediate count of the number of injuries, Nelson said additional ambulances had to be called from Billings to help.

Governor Greg Gianforte said on Twitter: “I am deeply saddened by the news of a mass casualty crash near Hardin. Please join me in praying to lift up the victims and their loved ones. We are grateful to our first responders for their service.”

Traffic stalls on Interstate 90 after a fatal crash in which at least 20 vehicles collided near Hardin, Mont., on Friday, July 15, 2022. (Amy Lynn Nelson/The Billings Gazette via AP)

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, who oversees the highway patrol, said in a statement, “The Montana Highway Patrol is on scene with other first responders and investigating the incident. We will post more information as it becomes available and appropriate out of respect for the lives lost and their loved ones.

“My prayers are with everyone affected by the tragic events during the Big Horn County dust storm today,” Knudsen added.

The incident occurred 5 kilometers (3 miles) west of Hardin. A video from The Billings Gazette showed hundreds of tractor-trailers, RVs and cars stopped for miles along the interstate’s two eastbound lanes.

The roots of the dust storm go back several hours, when the storms appeared in south central Montana between 1 and 2 p.m. and slowly began to move east, according to Nick Vertz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings. .

Those storms prompted a severe storm watch that covered Hardin and other parts of Montana from mid-afternoon to 9 p.m. Friday. Forecasters forecast the possibility of isolated quarter-sized hail, scattered wind gusts up to 75 mph (121 kph), and frequent lightning.

The wind picked up dust easily from recent temperatures of over 30 to over 40 degrees Celsius over the past week, reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile (0.4 kilometers).

[Con información de The Associated Press]

Connect with the Voice of America! Subscribe to our channel YouTube and turn on notifications, or follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter e Instagram.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.