At least six people have died and several more injured after a dust storm caused a pileup Friday evening on Interstate 90 in Montana.
Jay Nelson, Montana Highway Patrol Sergeant, said that heavy winds were the likely cause for the dust storm.
“It appears as though there was heavy winds, causing a dust storm with zero visibility,” Nelson said.
At least 21 vehicles also crashed in the incident in Montana.
Greg Gianforte, Governor of Montana, expressed his condolences to the victims’ loved ones.
“I’m deeply saddened by the news of a mass casualty crash near Hardin. Please join me in prayer to lift up the victims and their loved ones. We’re grateful to our first responders for their service,” Gianforte said in a tweet.
Nick Vertz, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Billings, said the dust storm’s roots can be traced back several hours when storms appeared in central southern Montana between 1 and 2 PM and slowly began moving east.
Vertz said an outflow flew east/southeast about 30 miles ahead of the dust storms, and the Big Horn County Airport recorded a 40 mph gust of wind at about 4:15 PM.
The Big Horn County Airport weather station’s next reading said the gusts had picked up to 62 mph at 4:35 PM, and went up to 64 mph 20 minutes later.
“If they looked up in the sky while they’re in Hardin, they probably didn’t see much of what you’d think of for a thunderstorm cloud, maybe not even much at all. It was just a surge of wind that kind of appeared out of nowhere,” Vertz said.
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