Tragedy struck yesterday in a major dust-storm induced crash in Millard County in which at least seven people have been killed and 20 vehicles were involved. Video below provided by Emma Hahne and tweeted by Fox13 shows the visibility impairment in the area.
Video from I-15 this afternoon, near where a 20+ vehicle pileup happened in Millard County, shows how hard it was to see during the dust storm that passed through the area.— FOX 13 News Utah (@fox13) July 26, 2021
UHP believes this is what ultimately caused the crash with at least 6 dead. https://t.co/G6cy1lHhUR pic.twitter.com/npSAzH4Y2n
Some of the worst vehicle accidents in US history have occurred due to localized visibility restrictions along US interstates. Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the easier summaries to access is provided by the personal injury attorneys Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti (https://www.1800law1010.com/the-worst-traffic-accidents-in-u-s-history/). It provides a list of what they call noteworthy traffic accidents in US history. Scroll down and you will see that dense fog, blowing dust, or sudden snowstorms are often contributors.
For example, on Nov 29, 1991, a massive pileup occurred in a dust storm along I-5 in California. Quoting their web site:
"Due to a severe drought that year, many of the surrounding farmlands had been left unplanted. The high winds whipped up the dry topsoil and created a dust storm that severely reduced visibility, leading to a series of crashes that became a 104-car pileup stretching over a mile of highway. Rescue efforts continued for many hours, and 17 people died while 150 were seriously injured. Several thousand moterists were trapped in their cars for most of the day as road crews worked to reopen the highway. It remains one if the worst traffic accidents in California history."Media reports indicate that the accident occurred between 4:30 and 5:00 PM MDT between Kanosh and Meadow. Google Maps imagery, which would have been from the day of the accident, shows the region near I-15 consists primarily of farmland, with some areas of less intensively developed land near the base of the Pahvant Mountains to the east.
|Source: Google Maps|
Radar imagery at 2228 UTC (04:28 MDT) shows some convection over the Pahvant Mountains to the east of Kanosh and Meadow ([Kanosh and Meadow are northeast of Milford (MLF in the image below), just north of the split of I-15 and I-70.
Drone photo from UHP at yesterday's dust-storm crash scene vs. image from Google Streetview. Hypothesize land-surface disturbance a critical factor in yesterday's storm with local dust source in easterly flow. pic.twitter.com/p31KrBthfO— Jim Steenburgh (@ProfessorPowder) July 26, 2021