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Hot Shots: Fierce fire, cool clouds, floods and more

Highlighting images in transportation, trucking and weather

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so in social media, highlighting images in trucking, transportation and weather. This week features dust blowing across Montana, saucer-like clouds in North Carolina, a train track warped by flooding and more.

Montana madness

High winds ripped across Montana for three consecutive days this week, with gusts topping 100 mph near the Rocky Mountain Front. Gusts across the plains of central and northern Montana ranged from 60 to 85 mph.

A grass fire called the West Wind fire started early this week near Stanford, Montana, spreading quickly northward toward Denton. Gusts were up to 60 mph at times, and the people of Denton were evacuated by midweek, according to a Thursday report from the Lewistown New-Argus. The Fergus County Sheriff’s Office said the blaze had burned numerous homes and structures in Denton, including grain elevators, and the Denton trestle bridge was destroyed. As of Friday morning, Montana state Route 81 was still closed in both directions from Denton to state Route 80.

The winds Wednesday sent dust and dirt swirling swiftly through the Coffee Creek area, severely limiting visibility.

On the same day, the winds were strong enough to flip at least one 18-wheeler in Browning, Montana. The National Weather Service told FreightWaves that gusts reached 85 mph in the area.

Flying saucers?

Unusual clouds had folks staring at the sky in North Carolina last weekend. They appeared in at least two places in the Appalachians — Boone and Asheville. They were lenticular clouds, which look like lenses, but some people say they look like flying saucers.


Lenticular clouds are associated with waves that form when moist, stable air flows over a large topographic barrier, like a mountain. They typically form downwind on the leeward side of the mountain. Lenticular clouds are fairly common in the Rockies, but are less common in the Appalachians.

Nasty Northwest

Periods of heavy rain have repeatedly flooded parts of the Pacific Northwest this fall. Neighborhoods have been underwater, with roads and rails washed out. The hardest hit areas have been from northern Washington into British Columbia, Canada.


Related: What’s causing repeated floods in Pacific Northwest?


Seasonal rainfall records — September through November — of 19.01, 20.88 and 32.94 inches were set in Seattle, Vancouver and Abbotsford, respectively. As of Friday, crews were still working on repairs to Canadian railway CN’s (NYSE: CNI) main line between Kamloops and Boston Bar. Canadian Pacific Railway (NYSE: CP) and CN eastbound and westbound trains were operating on CP’s mainline between Vancouver and Kamloops.

Beauty shot

This week’s beauty shot features a spectacular rainbow behind a medical helicopter at Harefield Hospital, about an hour west of downtown London.

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.