Severe winds in multi-car accidents prove fatal!

An interesting storm complex surprised many on the Texas South Plains today east of Lubbock, and then continued to create havoc by sending out an incredible outflow boundary that swept the South Plains with winds that sometimes exceeded 70 mph! As anyone that has ever been to West Texas when the wind blow already knows, high winds and dirt make a terrible combination.

While there were a variety of damage reports across the area, the big story was a multi-car, multi-accident event that happened along US 62/82 between Lubbock and Brownfield. As many as 5 separate accidents, possibly more (these were the details I could get from the scenes at the time) involving up to and maybe more than 20 vehicles happened from about 9 miles north of Brownfield to around the Lubbock County line along US 62/82. All accidents were caused by the blowing dust with visibilities to ZERO at times!

If the original accidents weren't bad enough, other cars came along, not being able to see, and drove into the existing accidents. In one instance, a flat bed wrecker that had been summoned to the scene of one multi-car accident was rear ended by an SUV killing the driver. Shortly after that, two motorcyles slammed into that very same accident.

It's unknown how many injuries there were at the time. I do know that ALL ambulance from Brownfield were called out, as well as ambulances from Hockley and Lubbock Counties. Fire departments and rescue units from 5 different departments responded to the calls, as well as Sheriff's departments from 3 counties and at least a dozen or more DPS units.

All the while the blowing dust continued. It was incredible, and very surreal. The video doesn't do it justice. It was like a scene out of Mad Max or something.

I have a video about 2 minutes long available for download here:

http://drylinemedia.com/video/062206_Lubbo...t_sandstorm.wmv

you may need to right click and save it. It's about 16.5 megs, high quality.

I ruined the camera I was shooting it with. I don't know if will be able to be cleaned or is finished. Took me 5 wet wipes just to get the dirt off my face and ears. The inside of my chase van is coated with dirt. I saw some deputies wearing gas masks! Some of the most horrid conditions you could imagine. And if that wasn't enough, thunderstorms moved in and put enough moisture down to cut out some of the blowing dust, but then the CG lightning cranked up and then there was another danger to the rescue workers.

About 20 miles of US 62/82 was shut down for several hours until the accidents could be cleared and blowing dust subsided!

You might recall a similar accident happened out here a couple of years ago due to blowing dust as well!
 
How'd you manage to get out in the mess? Were you driving by or chasing the storm or part of the accident or what?

I saw they were warning for winds over 80 mph. Incredible. Any radar screen shots anyone? Wasn't watching radar this afternoon I was doing other things.

Hope ya can fix the camera! Good footage David...
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I chase and do some stringer work for the local NBC station and some national stuff. so basically, I was working! B) This happened about 10 miles from my house. The 70+ wind reports were on the leading edge of the HUGE gust front that literally was a couple hundred miles in width at least, not necessarily in that location. I wish I had saved the radar loop of the velocity scans, it was awesome.

Just an update on the facts, DPS reports that there were 27 accidents within an 11 mile stretch total.

The 10 pm story last night from our station:
http://kcbd.com/Global/story.asp?S=5068787&nav=menu69_2
 
http://www.srh.weather.gov/lub/climate/Loc...t_06222006.html

haboob.jpg
 
This is really bad and my heart goes out to everyone affected - especially the family of the fatality.

It should really be stressed how impaired your ability to see and drive gets under conditions like these. Very few drivers seem to realize that they should really be stopping and pulling off somewhere safe when they get tangled up with visibility issues like this. Driving too fast and too close together for the conditions was probably the sole primary cause of these accidents.

KL
 
This is really bad and my heart goes out to everyone affected - especially the family of the fatality.

It should really be stressed how impaired your ability to see and drive gets under conditions like these. Very few drivers seem to realize that they should really be stopping and pulling off somewhere safe when they get tangled up with visibility issues like this. Driving too fast and too close together for the conditions was probably the sole primary cause of these accidents.

KL
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No doubts about it. Not slowing down and/or stopping during this event WAS the sole cause of these accidents.

Not to start another debat, but it's stuff like here is EXACTLY why I have the amber flashing lights on my chase vehicle. Unless your staying WAYYY back, you can and do get into very low visibility situations from time to time. And even that said, you can see in the video all the emergency vehicle lights...they only add a few feet more visibility on the vehicle than not having them. You can bet I had them all running in full force as I as allowed to work my way around all the accidents to get video.
 
It should really be stressed how impaired your ability to see and drive gets under conditions like these. Very few drivers seem to realize that they should really be stopping and pulling off somewhere safe when they get tangled up with visibility issues like this. Driving too fast and too close together for the conditions was probably the sole primary cause of these accidents.

KL
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Yeah, in most areas, these things don't occur (last time in KS anything like that happened was the afternoon of the famous May 29, 2004, and a state congressman died in NW KS due to zero visibility).

Upon my second day in Phoenix, a huge haboob came rushing through, with the news reporters giving saftey information, which was pull of to the side of the road and turn off any lights. That's so the people behind you don't run into you, thinking you're on the road with your break lights on. It's an extremely dangerous situation whenever it happens, and it's even worse in urban areas.
 
Some of the vehicles involved in this incident HAD pulled off the road to help other vehicles and were hit a bit later.

Usually from about the last week of February or so through about mid April we get horrible sandstorms on a regular basis out here on the caprock. By regular basis I mean at least 2 a week is a good average. These are wide spread pressure induced windstorms rather than thunderstorm related like this was. Some are worse than others. The worst of them create an brownout for the entire day and carry dust you can see on vis satellite over to DFW or OKC and in a few cases ended up as far north as Ohio!

West Texas is not a pleasant place to live in early spring. Usually there are plenty of wind warnings and things ramp up gradually as the air starts to heat up and the winds couple up. Pretty much everyone knows the feel of the day early on that it's going to be windy and dusty and nasty.

Not like this was a hit and run (no pun intended) even from what was really a rather unimpressive thunderstorm complex for the most part and surprised everyone.
 
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