Gusting Dust Storm Closes Part Of Highway

By  | 

Strong winds kicked up dust storms across northern Nevada Wednesday, reducing visibility to near zero in some areas, forcing closure of some highways and upending at least one big rig on U.S. Interstate 80.

With wind gusts up to 70 mph, the Nevada Highway Patrol was advising campers, trailers and high profile vehicles against traveling a 60-mile stretch of I-80 in eastern Nevada Wednesday afternoon from Wells to Wendover at the Utah state line.

In western Nevada, the patrol closed U.S. Highway 95-A from Fernley to Yerington, state Highway 445 from north of Sparks to Nixon at Pyramid Lake and state Highway 447 from Wadsworth all the way to Gerlach at the Black Rock Desert nearly 100 miles to the north.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts Wednesday morning up to 62 miles per hour at Lovelock on I-80 of Reno, 60 mph at Lake Pyramid north of Reno and up to 70 mph over the crest of the Sierra Nevada just southeast of Reno at Slide Mountain.

The tractor trailer overturned about 3 miles west of Wendover, where gusts up to 70 mph also were reported, trooper Rocky Gonzalez said.

"The winds are very strong. It doesn't take much to turn a vehicle over with winds that high," he told KELK radio in Elko.

The high winds created the clouds of dust and red clay from dry lake beds across northern Nevada's high desert.

"It's very, very bad on the highway," said Chris Hanneman at the Chevron Towing Service and Garage in Fernley, about 25 miles east of Reno.

Isolated power outages were reported around Reno, including one that knocked KTHX-FM radio off the air at 9:30 a.m. for about an hour before it resumed broadcasting with a back-up power system.

The patrol said there was no word on when the roads would reopen. The National Weather Service issued a blowing dust advisory in effect until 3:30 p.m. but a high wind advisory was not scheduled to expire until 6 p.m.

Both Reno and the Fallon Naval Air Station about 50 miles to the east reported winds gusting to 38 mph before noon, the National Weather Service said. Winnemucca reported a gust to 41 mph, Eureka 39 mph and Elko 37 mph.