I-90 sees overturned semis, uprooted trees after wind storm
Date posted: May 29, 2014
SHERIDAN — While many Sheridan residents sat at home without power after Wednesday’s storm blew through town, visitors and passers-by dealt with a plethora of their own problems on Interstate 90.
As wind gusts peaked at 75 mph just before 5 p.m., four separate topplings created traffic diversions and road closures.
A large tree uprooted and landed in the eastbound lane of the interstate just north of the Main Street interchange near the KOA Campground.
After blowing into the driving lane, part of the interstate was closed, diverting southbound traffic to Decker Road and narrowing northbound traffic to one slow-moving lane.
The tree was too large to be moved by a car, so a bulldozer was brought in and the lanes were reopened within a half hour.
As of Thursday morning, the tree and the dozer were still in the median, but Wyoming Department of Transportation Public Relations Specialist Ronda Holwell said it will be removed by next week and likely brought to the landfill.
Three semi-trucks were also upended, rolling off the highway when struck by wind.
One truck was hauling half of a prefabricated modular home and toppled at mile marker 18.5.
Another truck attempted to leave the highway around mile marker 16 and was unable to escape as it rolled off the off-ramp at the Port of Entry interchange.
The third truck tipped at milepost 5 outside of Ranchester, just inside the Montana state line.
All of the trucks were hauled to where they needed to be by different, independent towing companies.
Captain Carl Clements of the Wyoming Highway Patrol was unable to confirm where the trucks were coming from or heading or if any damages were sustained until further review of reports expected to be available this afternoon.
He did offer advice for drivers facing high wind conditions.
“Semis need to point directly into the wind if they can to avoid the broad side of their truck acting as a sail and blowing them over,” Clements said. “Cars and pickup trucks usually don’t have trouble in high winds; they just need to slow down and drive with care. Watch for debris.”
WYDOT staff and operations were busy focusing on debris removal of sorts — the cleanup and replacement of traffic guiding devices blown over by the wind.
“We obviously have a lot of construction going on and the wind did a number on our barrels,” Holwell said. “Our traffic control was busy putting barrels and traffic cones back up, and it wreaked a bit of havoc.”
One injury was confirmed as the result of all the incidents on the highway. The driver of the rolled-over semi at the Port of Entry was transported from the scene to Sheridan Memorial Hospital by Rocky Mountain Ambulance. Further information on the identity of the driver and his current condition were unavailable Thursday morning.