By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
Driving across parts of Wyoming on Saturday resembled the Allstate Insurance commercial, where mayhem lurked around every corner, or every highway, that is.
Winds in excess of 100 mph brought down semi-trucks and even flipped a 4,000-pound trailer like a tumbleweed.
Cheyenne’s Brian Pedersen was driving back to Cheyenne from Sheridan on Saturday and said Interstate 25 was littered with semis.
“I’ve never seen this kind of wind in my adult memory,” Pedersen, a former state legislator, told Cowboy State Daily on Sunday morning.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) had closed Interstate 25 for all light and high-profile vehicles on Saturday and posted an “Extreme Blowover Risk” warning for Interstates 25 and 80 and some state highways across the state but that didn’t stop many truckers from attempting their journeys.
Like A Tumbleweed
Riverton resident Matt Childers posted a video on YouTube of a 4,000-pound trailer flipped “like a tumbleweed” in winds that were reported in the area of topping 111 mph.
In his video that he shot around 1:45 p.m. in the Lower Red Canyon near Lander and South Pass, a white trailer scoots along on its side in some tall grass and then is flipped over like a toy car.
“Things Got Wild”
At one point, Pedersen said they encountered four trucks tipped-over blocking the highway. In another instance, he saw a truck driver crawling out from the top of his tipped vehicle.
“These folks had driven past other flipped trucks and made a choice to continue,” he said. He did see various clusters of trucks that chose not to continue, he said. WYDOT reported one of the truck parking lots on Interstate 25 between Cheyenne and Buford was full.
Pedersen said at a certain point in his trip, things “got wild.”
“The semis were just going up left and right, laying on the highway, not even on the shoulder,” he said.
At times he said they had to drive on the center median to get around the wreckage. The high gusts pushed on their vehicle like it had a sail, causing him to have to over-steer significantly just to stay on the road.
“I was turning right to stay straight,” he said.
Pederson compared the driving experience to “being like a boat in the ocean,” and said that his wife got motion sickness.
While the wind gust in Red Canyon was the only recorded gust topping the century mark, there were at least two instances of 90 mph wind recorded.
The US National Weather Service office in Riverton recorded a 94 mph gust in Sunlight Basin while the Cheyenne branch of the National Weather Service posted a 90 mph gust on Horse Creek Road in Laramie County.
About 7 miles south of Chugwater on Interstate 25, the winds hit 83mph, the town of Laramie recorded a gust of 81 mph, and Casper hit the 81 mph mark as well.