High winds wreaked havoc yesterday in the region, causing a number of vehicle accidents and fanning flames in multiple wildfires.
High winds began early in the day, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a High Wind Warning. As the day progressed, sustained winds were being reported in multiple locations, including Ogallala, of more than 50 miles per hour. Gusts were reported in excess of 70 miles per hour in many locations, as well, according to the National Weather Service in North Platte.
Aside from blowing massive amounts of dust, breaking tree limbs and sending debris flying through the air, the winds led to the possible toppling of some semi trucks in western Nebraska and caused extremely low visibility – which led to multiple vehicle accidents in western Nebraska.
Two accidents on Highway 26 near Ogallala were caused by low visibility. Only minor injuries were reported in the accidents. A larger accident on I-80 led to the closure of the interstate late in the morning between Sidney and Big Springs – a closure that lasted into the evening. A number of area highways also closed due to a mixture of traffic accidents and extremely poor visibility. At one point, a portion of I-80 near Sidney was described as a total brown-out.
Highway 26 between Ogallala and Lewellen was closed, as was Highway 30 between Sidney and Big Springs. All highways have since reopened.
In addition to a high number of traffic accidents, fires began breaking out in the region throughout the day. Aside from the large wildfire in northern Nebraska, a wildfire broke out near Sutherland, burning at least one structure in the area, according to KNOP-TV in North Platte. The structure, according to Sutherland Fire Chief Randy Jochum, was an old abandoned trailer house.
A fire was extinguished about 15 miles south of Brady.
Then, in the afternoon, Paxton Fire Chief Kyle Gartrell reported a wildfire between Paxton and Roscoe, mostly south of I-80. As yesterday afternoon, there was no containment of the fire and Chief Gartrell was calling for the evacuation of homes and businesses south of I-80 between Roscoe and Paxton.
No major injuries have been reported in any of the accidents or fires.
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