Incredible Dust Storm View From a 737- Courtesy of TwitterWed, 19 Dec 2012 21:13:56 CST
Wednesday saw a lot of dirt in the air across the Texas Panhandle. The picture above was posted on Twitter high in the air over the Panhandle from a 737 jet. At ground level, things were similar to blizzard conditions- and proved to be deadly for at least one motorist on Interstate 27 between Amarillo and Lubbock.
Captain John Gonzalez said 23 vehicles were involved in a series of chain-reaction crashes south of Abernathy as sand and dust from nearby fields were whipped by winds gusting up to 55 mph. "It was like a white-out, only this would be black," Gonzalez said. "You couldn't see past the hood of your vehicle."
Gonzalez said the accidents occurred in the southbound lane of Interstate 27 early Wednesday afternoon. He said about a half-dozen crashes occurred in "domino fashion" as visibility in the area dropped to zero. Gonzalez said a man died at the scene after the sport utility vehicle in which he was traveling slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer. Gonzalez said he was unable to provide other details about the fatality.
The accidents prompted authorities to close about a five-mile stretch of the highway in both directions between Abernathy and New Deal for about six hours. Although the road was reopened, the DPS issued a news release "strongly discouraging any travel along the I-27 corridor between Lubbock and Amarillo due to extremely dangerous conditions."
Prolonged drought causes sand to blow off hot, dry dirt, and landowners in the area were being asked to plow their fields, making it more likely that the sand remains settled, Gonzalez said. "The wind is just terrible, and that's something we hope will help," he said.
Meanwhile, further north- it's not dirt in the air, but rather snow. A storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in the Rocky Mountains is causing problems for travelers as it spreads across the Plains.
The main east-west route across Colorado, Interstate 70, was closed from east of Denver to the Kansas line because of poor visibility due to blowing snow Wednesday. Smaller highways were also closed in eastern Colorado.
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