Blizzard Closes I-90

Blizzard Closes I-90 In Wyoming

A blizzard closed parts of I-90 in Wyoming and South Dakota as it dumped several inches of snow on the region. The early storm was a sign of an unseasonably early winter.

While the states expect several inches of snow per year, this week’s blizzard was surprising. A tourist town was forced to cancel its annual Octoberfest’s polka-dancing bar crawl.

Part of South Dakota’s Black Hills saw 33 inches of snow by Friday afternoon, and National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Helgeson expected it to keep coming down.

Helgeson added that wind gusts also reached 68 miles per hour outside Rapid City, which saw eight inches of snow. The blizzard did more than close I-90 and cancel a polka-dancing bar crawl.

Three people were killed in northwest Nebraska in an accident on US 20 on Friday morning. The storm also caused a tornado to hit in Nebraska, blanketed Colorado’s mountains with snow, and threatened strong thunderstorms in Wisconsin.

Before it moved east to create a blizzard, the storm also caused record rainfall to hit parts of the Northwest and even spawned a small tornado south of Seattle. I-90 wasn’t the only major highway the blizzard closed. Portions of I-25, as well as US Routes 14, 16, and 20 in central and eastern Wyoming, were closed.

I-90 in South Dakota from exits 46 to 55 is under a no travel advisement until Saturday afternoon. Travel is also slow-going through much of I-80 and I-25 in Wyoming, along with I-90 in western South Dakota. Drivers traversing the interstates experienced snow- and slush- covered roads, along with poor visibility.

Patricia Whitman, a shift manager at the Flying J truck stop in Gillette, Wyoming, told reporters, “I’ve lived in Wyoming my whole life and I’ve never seen it like this this early.” Whitman added, “I know several of the businesses nearby are completely closed because they can’t even get workers into work — it’s pretty nasty.”

Along with interstate closures and poor travel conditions, the blizzard also snapped tree limbs and downed power lines in parts of the state. The I-90 closures won’t last long, as temperatures are forecast to rebound, causing much of the snow to melt in lower elevations.

[Image via ShutterStock]