‘Dirt blizzard’ causes road closures in southeast Wyoming

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The view from a Wyoming State Patrol cruiser during the 'Dirt Blizzard' in southeast Wyoming on March 17, 2013. (Photo: Wyoming State patrol)

The view from a Wyoming State Patrol cruiser during the ‘Dirt Blizzard’ in southeast Wyoming on March 17, 2013. (Photo: Wyoming State patrol)

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TORRINGTON, Wyo. — What’s brown, is caused by winds gusts in excess of 60 mph wind and closed a highway in southeast Wyoming on Sunday?

Wyoming State troopers answered that question from a dust-covered enclave in Torrington Monday.

“Yesterday’s strong, gusty winds created what one Trooper called a ‘Dirt Blizzard’ in eastern Wyoming that resulted in hazardous driving conditions and zero visibility for motorists traveling on US 85 south of Torrington,” the State Patrol wrote in a press release.

The Dirt Blizzard was caused by the blowing of crop land dirt, according to the troopers, and it resulted in the closing of Highway 85 around 1 p.m. Sunday. The highway remained closed until visibility improved around 7 p.m.

Troopers responded to several non-injury crashes in the area, and rescued 20 stranded motorists in all. Several of those motorists, thinking they were still on the highway, drove off the road and got stuck, troopers said.

The nearest Wyoming Department of Transportation wind monitoring station 33 miles south of Torrington reported gusts as high as 57 miles per hour. Troopers said the gusts in the road closure area were higher.

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