Chicago/ Weather & Environment
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Published on May 22, 2024
Dust Storm Shuts Down Sections of I-55 Near Bloomington, Illinois Authorities Urge Motorist CautionSource: Unsplash/Arjun Lama

Chaos ensued on Illinois roadways as a menacing dust storm descended upon central Illinois, leading to the closure of parts of Interstate 55. The Illinois State Police diligently worked to manage the fallout as visibility plummeted to near zero at times, forcing troopers to shut down the stretch of I-55 near Bloomington, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. Motorists were urged to immediately seek out alternative routes, with officials rerouting northbound traffic onto Route 136 eastbound, Route 51 northbound, and I-74 westbound, and southbound vehicles onto I-74 eastbound, Route 51 southbound, and Route 136 westbound.

As the dust storm aggressively swept through McLean County, police were not only focused on redirecting traffic but also on the safety of those caught amidst nature's blind rage. Drivers were advised to pull completely off the roadway, halt their vehicles, extinguish all lights, engage the emergency brake, and firmly stay put in their vehicles with seatbelts securely fastened, according to guidance from the Illinois State Police quoted by FOX 2. This preventive directive comes in the wake of the previous year's havoc that left six dead and 37 injured in a massive 72-vehicle pileup triggered by a similar dust storm.

State authorities were dispatched to the scene around 3 p.m. after the dust storm was initially reported, according to the Chicago Tribune. The affected area on I-55 was closed in both directions as the dust originated from east of the roadway and billowed across the lanes, drastically reducing visibility for drivers. A second closure of Interstate 74 was also reported between mileposts 149 in Le Roy and 160 in unincorporated De Witt County as a separate dust storm manifested, authorities confirmed.

The closures echo a chilling reminder of the disastrous event that unfolded over a year ago when another dust storm caused an 84-vehicle pileup that resulted in eight fatalities and injuries to at least 36 individuals on the same interstate. Illinois State Police are maintaining their presence on the affected routes to ensure public safety and manage the unpredictable situation, snippets from their statements were provided by FOX 2.