Winds cause damage, halt truck drivers in Pueblo

Posted at 6:41 PM, Apr 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-17 20:41:56-04

Wind gusts of up to 65 miles per hour wreaked havoc in Pueblo County Tuesday, throwing debris, trash and household items across the area.

The winds also halted commercial truck drivers like Dan Pennington from using I-25.

"You know, my boss tells me there’s nothing more important with this whole truck than who’s sitting in that driver’s seat," Pennington said.

He was headed south to Center, Colorado, to pick up a load of potatoes and head back toward home in Kansas. Pennington and several other drivers, though, spent the entire day waiting to head south.

"But whenever they have flashing warnings restricting me being empty or light, and I seen this place to pull over so, I’m here till the winds die down," Pennington said.

Extreme gusts prompted high-wind restrictions for the majority of Tuesday from the Colorado Department of Transportation for I-25 south of Pueblo. CDOT hoped to prevent a major accident from happening, but a tipped semi 30 miles south of Pueblo closed the interstate around 5 p.m.

"The vehicles that we see causing the biggest issues are our large, commercial semi trucks," said Michelle Peulen, region two communication manager for CDOT. "They basically serve as a kite unfortunately, especially when they’re light. They can easily be blown over."

The winds weren’t restricted to the interstate though.

"I’ve lived here about five years, and there’s been a couple windstorms, but nothing really this bad that I’ve seen anyway," said Alton Lee, a Pueblo resident who witnessed the damage.

Winds caused a massive branch to fall near the intersection of East Tenth Street and Iola Avenue. Thankfully, the fallen tree did not damage any cars or property, but it did serve as a reminder of just how strong Tuesday’s winds have been, and what they’re capable of.

"We all know to be winter wise," Peulen said. "We all know when it’s snowing, we need to take precautions. But wind has it’s own element of precaution."

That message was echoed by Pennington.

"I’ve drove truck long enough to know, running empty, this is dangerous conditions. Fifty to 60 mile an hour winds will tip this trailer over," Pennington said.