High winds, dust storm create chaos on Plains states’ highways

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – Strong winds and gusts nearing 90 mph wreaked havoc and created dangerous conditions on the roads in Missouri and Kansas.

Near Springfield, Missouri, troopers said the driver of a tractor-trailer lost control because of the wind Wednesday morning. Troopers said the driver wasn’t wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash and was ejected from the semi.

In Kansas, an overturned truck blocked part of Interstate 70, east of Salina.

Troopers and police said they expected to see more crashes like these throughout the afternoon and evening as wind gusts were expected to become even stronger.

Another issue was all of the blowing dust. This is what it looked like in western Kansas, late Wednesday morning as a dust storm blew through the area and made it difficult to see. There were reports of 86 mph wind gusts in this area.

Troopers closed a stretch of I-70 Wednesday afternoon because of the brownout.

In addition to the dust, residents in Kansas are also experiencing hazy skies and a smell of smoke in the air. Meteorologists from the National Weather Service said the smoke is likely from the wildfires in central Kansas, particularly in Ellis County.

The high winds were also causing tree damage and downed power lines, leaving thousands without power in the Kansas City area.

The National Weather Service issued two “never-before-seen” weather outlooks for several Plains and Midwest states that were forecast to see rare December severe storms.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning in an area stretching from New Mexico to upper Michigan — including Wisconsin and Illinois. A National Weather Service site in Lamar, Colorado reported a 107 mph gust.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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