Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 19, 2012

Interstate closed amid Dust Bowl-type conditions

BLACKWELL, Okla. — A scene reminiscent of Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl days triggered a multi-vehicle accident in northern Oklahoma, forcing police to shut down a portion of heavily traveled I-35.

The highway virtually disappeared as dozens of vehicles scattered in the median and on the shoulders. An eight-mile stretch of the roadway was closed for about six hours. No serious injuries were reported.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Jodi Palmer, a dispatcher with Kay County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities linked the conditions to a long drought. Visibility was estimated at less than 10 feet in some areas as wind gusts were recorded at more than 50 miles an hour.

Many farmers along the Oklahoma-Kansas line recently had tilled the soil in preparation for the winter wheat season. Mixed with the high winds and lack of rain, it created the Dust Bowl-type condition.

Steve Austin, a Kay County commissioner, said visibility was terrible.

“It looked like a huge fog was over the city of Ponca City,” he said. “We’ve had dust storms before, but I don’t remember anything of this magnitude in years.”

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Details for this story were provided by The Enid (Okla.) News and Eagle.

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