Sudden ‘Blinding’ Wyoming Snowstorm Shuts Down I-80, Triggers Major Pileups

AASHTO Journal, 17 April 2015

While springtime is bringing warm temperatures to much of the nation and as far as northern Alaska, a late winter blast sent a powerful snowstorm into southeastern Wyoming on April 16. As it struck, a series of traffic crashes piled up scores of big rig trucks and cars, closing a 150-mile stretch of east-west Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie.

wyopile.jpg A Wyoming Highway Patrol photo shows aftermath of one pileup.

The Weather Channel said the storm brought “blinding, blowing snow” that created “impossible driving conditions.”

The Wyoming Department of Transportation said in a press release that 47 vehicles were involved in major vehicle pileups, with many of them near the I-80 Harriman Interchange, about 17 miles west of Cheyenne, beginning about 11:22 a.m. local time. A full 24 hours later, the department still listed long sections of the interstate route as closed.

In all, the department said, 27 people were injured from crashes involving 33 commercial and 12 passenger vehicles. Twelve agencies from two counties sent emergency responders to tend to the injured and help the Highway Patrol with its investigation.

The Wyoming DOT also posted a series of Facebook updates about the storm and pileups, with pictures of the crumpled vehicles.

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