A dust storm which reduced visibility to zero in an instant and heavy winds topping 60 mph caused a 21-vehicle pileup on Interstate 90 in Big Horn County, near Hardin, Montana, on Friday around 4:50 p.m. Videos showed the wrecked vehicles caused a miles-long backup. Traffic was backed up for several miles. All eastbound traffic was being diverted off the highway, and westbound traffic has been reduced to one lane, according to the Montana Department of Transportation. At least six people incuding two children were killed. It was not immediately clear how many people were injured in the crash.
The identities of the dead and conditions of the survivors were not being released. “Everything is indicative of an isolated extreme weather event,” Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Jay Nelson said. Before the pileup, storms popped up in central southern Montana. “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,” Governor Greg Gianforte tweeted. It took more than six hours to fully reopen the road. Scientists have previously warned that climate change will create conditions that potentially exacerbate dust storms. The storms happen when strong winds blow through dry areas.