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Hot Shots: Snowstorm, wildfire, dust storm

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 a 100-vehicle pileup in a Midwest snowstorm, another winter California wildfire and a dust storm in the Southwest.


A powerful storm Thursday produced freezing rain and heavy snow in the Midwest. Truckers and other drivers were delayed in spots from the Upper Mississippi Valley through the Great Lakes region. Accidents led to a major 100-plus pileup on Interstate 39 just north of Bloomington, Illinois, with many tractor-trailers involved. About 30 miles of the highway were shut down for several hours.

The storm also produced heavy rain and flooding in parts of the Midwest and Northeast before changing to snow. The same system spawned tornadoes and damaging straight-line winds in the South.

Wildfire woes

The third California wildfire this winter started early Wednesday morning near the Eastern Sierra Regional Airport in Bishop. The wind-driven fire, dubbed the Airport fire, grew from 50 to 100 acres within 45 minutes and stood at more than 4,100 acres as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Smoke initially created visibility issues for firefighting crews, but they have been able to make progress containing the fire since the winds subsided Wednesday. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire that sparked during a fairly wet winter that has, ironically, reduced the state’s drought. Evacuation orders have been canceled, but some local roads may still be closed.

Dam of dust

Earlier this week, a storm front swept through the Desert Southwest, stirring up strong winds. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph were common Tuesday in southern Nevada, southeastern California and western Arizona, with gusts of 45 to 55 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The winds kicked up walls of dust, dirt and sand in some places, including near the California-Nevada border, not far from Death Valley. Chris Attrell captured this in the photo above.

Beauty shot

This week’s beauty shot comes from Starkville, Mississippi, where Dylan Hudler caught a halo around the moon late Wednesday evening.

A halo forms when light refracts, or bends, through ice crystals in high cirrus clouds. A similar effect can happen around the sun.

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.