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UPDATE 3:30 P.M. — Strong winds caused travel difficulties and power outages across Montana on Wednesday.

A combination of gusty winds and slick roads caused a school bus to run off U.S. Highway 2 near Browning on Wednesday morning, the Montana Highway Patrol said. None of the students on the bus was injured.

In the Missoula area, Missoula County deputies and the highway patrol responded to more than a dozen slide-offs as light rain caused a layer of black ice to form on Interstate 90.

"The worst areas we saw were east of Bonner on I-90 and west of Frenchtown," said sheriff's spokesman Jason Johnson. "People were sliding off all over the place."

In one case, a semi hauling fuel slid into the median east of Missoula and began leaking fuel from both tanks. The driver suffered minor injuries, Johnson said.

High wind warnings were in effect along the Rocky Mountain Front and across eastern Montana.

The Department of Transportation closed a 40-mile stretch of U.S. 191 from Harlowton to the junction with U.S. 87 due to high winds on Wednesday afternoon. There was no detour available.

Interstate 90 near Livingston also was closed for a time Wednesday morning, with traffic being re-routed through Livingston.

NorthWestern Energy spokeswoman Claudia Rapkoch said high winds knocked down three power poles affecting a small number of customers in Monarch, while a broken pole was reported in Cascade. Traffic lights were out at a few intersections in Great Falls.

"We're just getting hammered with high wind," Rapkoch said.


UPDATE 2:30 P.M. - Strong winds and icy roads are causing travel difficulties across Montana.

U.S. Highway 191 mile post 0 to mile post 39, Harlowton to the junction with U.S.-87, has been closed. All traffic is restricted due to high winds in the area. There is no detour in place. Motorists will have to find an alternate route.

The Montana Highway Patrol says a combination of gusty winds and slick roads caused a school bus to run off U.S. Highway 2 near Browning Wednesday morning. None of the students on the bus were injured.

In the Missoula area, Missoula County deputies and the patrol responded to more than a dozen slide-offs as light rain caused a layer of black ice to form on Interstate 90 Wednesday morning.

In one case, a semi hauling fuel slid into the median east of Missoula and began leaking fuel from both tanks. The driver suffered minor injuries.

High wind warnings were in effect along the Rocky Mountain Front and in eastern Montana, with gusts of 30 mph to nearly 70 mph reported.

UPDATE -- 1:13 P.M.: Interstate 90 has reopened between Livingston and Springdale, but winds continue to whip in the area, which could mean more problems later.

In Great Falls, winds are so bad that a dust warning was issued.


ORIGINAL STORY:

 

High winds blowing across much of Montana are causing travel and other difficulties.

At midmorning Wednesday, Interstate 90 remained closed between Livingston and Springdale, between exits 330 and 338. Traffic was being rerouted through Livingston.

High winds are reported on most roadways west of Billings.

Reports from Great Falls say some power lines have been downed.

Winds are expected to be heavy across the Billings area into Wednesday evening.

While the winds could be strong enough in some areas to rip off loose shingles, they also are bring warmer temperatures to the region.

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