See the Massive Dust Storm That Caused Chaos & Shut Down an OK Interstate
Rescue personnel from the Tonkawa Fire Department extricate a woman pinned in vehicle after it was involved in an accident on Interstate 35, one of 12 accidents involving 27 vehicles which took place during massive dust storm sweeping through Kay County, Okla. Thursday Oct. 18, 2012. Credit: AP
TULSA, Okla. (TheBlaze/AP) — A massive dust storm swirling reddish-brown clouds over northern Oklahoma triggered a multi-vehicle accident along a major interstate Thursday, forcing police to shut down part of the heavily traveled roadway amid near blackout conditions.
In a scene reminiscent of the Dust Bowl days, choking dust suspended on strong wind gusts shrouded Interstate 35, which links Dallas and Oklahoma City to Kansas City, Mo. Video from television station helicopters showed the four-lane highway virtually disappearing into billowing dust on the harsh landscape near Blackwell, plus dozens of vehicles scattered in the median and on the shoulders.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Jodi Palmer, a dispatcher with the Kay County Sheriff’s Office. “In this area alone, the dirt is blowing because we’ve been in a drought. I think from the drought everything’s so dry and the wind is high.”
The rear of a car sits on top of another following a crash on Interstate 35 on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, near Blackwell, Okla. (AP Photo/The Ponca City News, Rolf Clements)
The highway patrol said the dust storm caused a multi-car accident, and local police said nearly three dozen cars and tractor-trailers were involved. Blackwell Police Chief Fred LeValley said nine people were injured, but there were no fatalities.
State transportation workers were called into to close the highway between U.S. 60 and Oklahoma 11, an 8-mile stretch of the cross-country roadway.
“We have very high winds and blowing dust causing a near blackout condition,” Capt. James West of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Thursday afternoon. He said visibility was less than 10 feet.
The stretch of closed roadway reopened Thursday evening after crews cleaned up debris and waited for winds to die down, Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokesman Cole Hackett said.
The area is just south of the Kansas state line in far northern Oklahoma. Interstate 35 runs from the Mexican border in south Texas to Duluth, Minn.
A red flag fire warning was in place for parts of northern Oklahoma on Thursday, as was a blowing dust advisory.
The National Weather Service forecast for the area said winds would subside to 20 mph or lower overnight but that gusts as high as 28 mph could continue. Calm winds were expected by Friday night.
Here’s video of the storm:
The area has suffered through an extended drought and many farmers had recently loosened the soil while preparing for the winter wheat season.
“You have the perfect combination of extended drought in that area … and we have the extremely strong winds,” said Gary McManus, the Oklahoma associate state climatologist.
“Also, the timing is bad because a lot of those farm fields are bare. The soil is so dry, it’s like powder. Basically what you have is a whole bunch of topsoil waiting for the wind to blow it away. It’s no different from the 1930s than it is now.”
Steve Austin, a Kay County commissioner, said visibility was terrible.
“It looked like a huge fog was over the city of Ponca City,” he said. “We’ve had dust storms before, but I don’t remember anything of this magnitude in years.”
- Shock Video Surfaces: Meat Cleaver-Wielding Man Shouts ‘You People Will Never Be Safe!’ Moments After Gruesome London Attack 492 Comments
- Why Were DHS Agents Seemingly Monitoring Multiple Tea Party IRS Protests Across the Country on Tuesday? 477 Comments
- Confusion Erupts in IRS Hearing After Lois Lerner Tries to Plead the 5th — Watch It All Unfold 467 Comments
- The Tense Exchange Between Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Former IRS Head You’ve Been Waiting for…and It Doesn’t Disappoint 378 Comments
- Anti-Gay Bias or Fair Punishment? New Details Emerge About High School Student’s Lesbian Relationship With a Minor 317 Comments
- ‘I Swear I Will Kill You…F**k You’: Conservative Comedian Gets Death Threats Following Anti-Muhammad Video Read More
- ‘We…Aren’t Going to Take S**t From Homophobes’: Mysterious Pro-Firearm Ads Use Gays, Seemingly Topless Lesbians to Rail Against Gun Control 172 Comments
- Pope Francis’ Sermon Sparks Debate: ‘Even the Atheists’ Have Been Redeemed ‘With the Blood of Christ’ 288 Comments
- Beck Issues Challenge to People of Faith in Wake of Okla. Tornado: ‘What Have You Done?’ Read More
- ‘Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad!: Michelle Malkin Rips Progressives, Clashes With Lib Radio Host Over Islamic Terrorism and the London Machete Attack 124 Comments
- Trey Gowdy at It Again — This Time with a Jack Bauer Reference! Read More
- Emails Released: Congress Was Asking for Updates on IG’s IRS Audit Before 2012 Election Read More
- Weekly Unemployment Benefits Tumble Read More
- Why Is This German Company Recruiting Tech Staff With Autism? Read More
- House Votes to Speed up Keystone Pipeline: Here’s Everyone Who Voted for and Against It Read More
- The Incredible Role Facebook Played in the Aftermath of Devastating Okla. Tornado Read More
- Tech Company Demonstrates Remote Disabling of a ‘Smart Gun’ 121 Comments
- Meet the Blind Man Nicknamed ‘Midnight Gunslinger’ Who Has 80% Shot Accuracy Read More
- How a $4.5 Million Network of 181 Sirens Helped Save Lives in Oklahoma Twister Read More
- See the Record-Setting Python a Man Caught With His Bare Hands (and Guess How Much It Weighed) Read More
- Iowa kidnapping suspect probed in cousins' deaths
- Storm took town's youngest as it swept through
- Council members abstain from vote on abstaining
- Dissidents find 'Cuba outside Cuba' in Miami
- Big stores nix credit card settlement, file suit
- Distraught mom becomes face of Oklahoma storm
- IMF chief Lagarde in court in fraud probe
- AP Interview: Rogge praises wrestling's changes