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Hot Shots: Dangling truck, late spring snow, major bridge repair and more

Highlighting images in transportation, trucking and weather

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look back at the week or so in social media, highlighting trucking, transportation and weather. This week features a harrowing experience for a driver who slid down an embankment, a landspout tornado spotted midair from inside a plane and very late season snow in the Northwest.

Up close and personal

A glider pilot took a thrilling ride around a landspout tornado in Oklahoma last weekend, and it was caught on video (presumably by someone other than the pilot). Everyone on board got a great view of the funnel, which they spotted in Tuttle, about 20 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

A landspout tornado forms in the same way a waterspout develops over lakes and oceans — from ground circulations getting sucked up into a developing storm cloud. This differs from a regular tornado, which extends downward from a rotating supercell thunderstorm. Landspouts are typically weaker than most regular tornadoes but can still cause damage on the ground.

Close call

A box truck driver accidentally went off a road Tuesday near Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 28-foot truck ended up perched on a steep embankment in the Lookout Mountain area, hanging over what the Chattanooga Fire Department (CFD) called a “dangerous, unstable spot.”

Firefighters were able to rescue the driver, who was reportedly hanging upside down in the cab. It took more than an hour to secure the truck and skillfully pull the driver to safety. A CFD spokesperson said the driver was taken to a hospital with relatively minor injuries, and a local towing company later lifted the truck back onto the road.

Major bridgework

The Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River remains closed due to a structural issue. In mid-May, an Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) engineer spotted a fractured beam during a routine inspection. ARDOT immediately shut down the crossing that connects Memphis, Tennessee, to eastern Arkansas.

ARDOT officials said Tuesday that temporary weldment brackets are continuing to be installed on the bridge in preparation for the tensioning of the posts. Tennessee Commissioner of Transportation Clay Bright said earlier this month that he expects repairs to last until late July. Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association, told FreightWaves this week that the closure is costing the trucking industry about $1 million a day, but this is an improvement from a few weeks ago when congestion on alternate routes was worse.

Related: I-40 bridge closure over Mississippi River to last several more weeks

Chilling out

Most of the country has been warming up in recent weeks, with only two days to go until the summer solstice. But it’s not happening everywhere. As they say in the real estate business, it’s all about location.

Snow is still covering parts of Mount Hood, Oregon — the tallest mountain in the state — which peaks at 11,249 feet above sea level. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon, told FeightWaves that it’s very common to see some snowpack in the Mount Hood area in mid-June, especially above 6,000 feet. If you’re not a cold weather person, think warm thoughts.

Mystery man

This one goes back to early last week, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. A truck driver saved a Utah couple from their burning house in the middle of the night. It happened in Veyo, a town in the far southwestern part of the state.

After seeing the flames, the driver pulled on his rig’s horn, rang the couple’s doorbell and banged on the door until they woke up. He even carried one of the people out of the house, according to the St. George News.

Once the driver made sure the couple was a safe distance from the fire, he got in his truck and drove away. Brandon G. Humphries, mayor of a nearby town, said his aunt and uncle are the couple who live in the home. He also said they were sound asleep when the fire broke out, and it was the truck driver’s actions that saved their lives that night. Veyo Fire Chief Chris Larsen added, “That’s straight hero stuff right there.”

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.