High winds caused a tractor-trailer to roll over Monday afternoon along Interstate 15 in Montana. It happened in the northbound lanes near Conrad, about 60 miles north of Great Falls. The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) travel information map showed a “full road closure … until recovery is complete.”
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Great Falls sent out a civil emergency message at 3:32 p.m. MT Monday — at the request of the Pondera County Department of Emergency Services — saying the closure could last 24 hours. There is no word yet on whether anyone was seriously injured.
It’s unclear if MDT or the Montana Highway Patrol has reopened the road. As of early Tuesday, the civil emergency message no longer appears on the NWS Great Falls website, and the incident no longer shows up on the MTD travel information map. However, neither the highway patrol nor the MDT has announced a reopening on their social media accounts, and FreightWaves was not able to reach anyone when calling the highway patrol.
Update as of Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, noon ET: FreightWaves was eventually able to confirm with MTD that the highway was reopened Monday night, and the accident was completely cleared Tuesday morning.
The high risk of rollovers continues through Wednesday from central Montana to northern Idaho and eastern Washington. The NWS has issued various high-wind alerts across the region.
Winds from the west and southwest will gust from 50 to 70 mph in many spots, with sustained winds of 30 to 50 mph. These will be mostly crosswinds, impacting drivers on sections of I-15 and I-90 through Great Falls, West Yellowstone, Helena, Cut Bank and Kalispell, Montana; Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho; as well as Spokane, Walla Walla and Yakima, Washington. Drivers deadheading or carrying light loads may want to head south to avoid the risk.
Along with the winds, a storm will produce high-elevation snowfall Tuesday and Wednesday in the northern Rockies in Montana. Drivers will have to chain up along U.S. Highway 2 from Blacktail to West Glacier. Look for 3 to 6 inches between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, with some areas above 6,000 getting slammed with up to 14 inches.