The roadways are back open after high winds caused significant visibility issues and several vehicle accidents along I-72 yesterday afternoon.
According to Storm Team 20 Meteorologist Thomas Patrick, wind speeds from the south reached up to 45 miles per hour yesterday afternoon, picking up ambient dust from farm fields throughout the area, creating dust storm-like conditions.
Spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Transportation Kelsea Gurski says IDOT first started hearing about visibility issues around 3 p.m., and that it progressively became worse between 3 and 4 o’clock. .
“We began hearing about dust that was affecting visibility on I-72 in early afternoon, probably around the three o’clock hour, and by the four o’clock area it became very apparent that there were several areas along 72, especially between Springfield and Jacksonville, that had several visibility issues because of the dust. East and West roads, especially I-72, very heavily effected because there was nothing to prevent the dust from hitting the highway,” says Gurski.
While several parts of the state were affected by winds and storms, Gurski believes the portion of I-72 between Jacksonville and Decatur was among the most hazardous roadways.
“In the Springfield and Jacksonville area, I-72 was the most significantly affected. Basically from Jacksonville to Decatur we had a lot of wrecks that were reported in due to the dust and visibility issues, and we also know some areas along I-55 had some issues, particularly south of Bloomington,” Gurski explains. .
There were a number of accidents along I-72 yesterday, with one being fatal. Illinois State Trooper Sean Ramsey says he is still looking over the exact number of crashes reported, and hopes to provide a ballpark range later today.
Gurski says I-72 lanes opened up back up late last night.