Sunday’s “Dirt Blizzard” Caused Problems for Motorists
Sunday’s strong gusty winds created what one Trooper called a “Dirt Blizzard” in eastern Wyoming that resulted in hazardous driving conditions and zero visibility for motorists traveling on US 85 south of Torrington. The Wyoming Highway Patrol says the zero visibility resulted from blowing crop land dirt which prompted WYDOT to close US 85 south of Torrington at approximately 1:00 p.m. The highway remained closed until just before 7:00 p.m. when the winds died down and the visibility improved. Troopers were dispatched to several non-injury crashes in that area and were also called upon to rescue stranded motorists in the road closure area during the height of the wind storm. Troopers found approximately 20 stranded motorists who had come to a complete stop in the roadway or on the shoulders of US 85 as they could not see. Several motorists, thinking they were still on the roadway, drove off the roadway and became stuck.
The nearest WYDOT wind monitoring station is approximately 33 miles south. That wind station recorded wind gusts as high as 57 mph, however, Troopers working in the road closure area believe wind gusts in their area were higher.
Several patrol vehicles sustained minor damage due to sandblasting of decals and paint.