Six people, including two children, were killed in a pileup in Montana on Saturday after a Friday night dust storm shut down Interstate 90, a crucial artery through both Montana and the Western United States.
According to Sgt. Jay Nelson of the Montana Highway Patrol, investigators have not yet discovered any more causes for the pileup that also left eight other persons hospitalised with injuries.
Nelson, who has worked for the state for 24 years, said of the probe, “Everything is indicative of an isolated extreme weather occurrence.” What could individuals do? The only thing there was panic.
A further ambulance was requested from Billings to assist with the pileup, which occurred about west of Hardin. The names of the deceased and the state of the survivors are still being withheld.
According to authorities, the accident happened at 4:30 p.m. as 21 vehicles, including six commercial semi-trucks, lost control in a dust storm fuelled by wind gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph).
Nelson reported that during a busy summer hour for folks driving for outdoor pleasure or the commute home from work, there was zero visibility for a mile-long area.
The complete reopening of the road took more than six hours.
Nelson remarked, “There was tremendous confusion and a lot of debris.”
Gov. Greg Gianforte expressed his sadness for the mass fatality crash in Hardin on Twitter. As we pray for the victims and their loved ones, please join me. We appreciate the efforts of our first responders.
Austin Knudsen, the attorney general of Montana, who is in charge of the highway patrol, announced in a statement that an investigation was being conducted by the agency. “Out of respect for the lives lost and their loved ones, we will provide further information when it becomes available and is appropriate.
The two eastbound lanes of the interstate were clogged with hundreds of tractor-trailers, campers, and cars in a video from The Billings Gazette.
Before the pileup, storms appeared in central and southern Montana between 1 and 2 p.m. and started to move slowly east, according to Nick Vertz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings.
Due to these storms, a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for Hardin and adjacent areas of Montana on Friday from mid-afternoon until nine o’clock. Quarter-sized hail, scattered gusts up to 75 mph (121 kph), and frequent lightning were all predicted by meteorologists.
According to Vertz, a storm’s so-called outflow, or wind surge, went around 30 miles (48 kilometers) ahead of the storm.
Big Horn County Airport in the area recorded a sudden increase in winds around the time of the crash. About 15 minutes before the incident was reported, a gust of wind of 40 mph (64 kph) was recorded, and in less than an hour, another gust of wind of 64 kph was recorded (103 kph).
Visibility was only about a quarter of a mile due to the wind’s easy picking up of dust brought on by recent temperatures in the 90s and triple digits during the past week (0.4 kilometers).
If they had looked up at the sky while in Hardin, Vertz said, “they probably wouldn’t have seen much of what you’d conceive of as a thunderstorm cloud or even anything at all.” “It was just a sudden gust of wind,” the speaker said.