Illinois Dust Storm: Second Dust Storm Shuts Down Highway Again Tuesday

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2 May 2023 7:15 PM

A major crash happened on Monday, May 1st on Interstate 55 between Sangamon and Montgomery Counties in Illinois. This was induced by a dust storm that happened when gusty winds picked up dust and dirt from nearby fields and dropped visibility to near zero. This caused dozens of vehicles to crash, with unfortunately 6 fatalities and 30+ people hospitalized.

A second dust storm event happened in the same area on Tuesday as a result of the gusty winds and dry soils. Many of these areas have had a deficit of rain over the last 30 days which means the threat of unexpected low visibility like we had on Monday is possible.

If you are caught in a dust storm, what should you do? The National Weather Service sometimes issues "dust storm warnings" and if you are in your car on the highway, they say to

"pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible, stop, turn off lights, set the emergency brake, take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated. Don't enter the dust storm area if you can avoid it. If you can't pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on lights and sound horn occasionally. Use the painted center line to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway. Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway."

The reason to turn OFF your lights is so that other drivers do not get confused by the lights and think that you are on the roadway. Stay in your vehicle, don't get out as getting out on the highway is more dangerous than in the protection of your vehicle!

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