Not long after Southwest Montana's first big snowstorm of the season hit Wednesday morning, slick roads and limited visibility led to an estimated 30 crashes in the Butte area in less than 24 hours, authorities said
The accidents were “all over the place,” Undersheriff George Skuletich said Thursday.
Within a five-minute period around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, three crashes occurred at Park and Excelsior. Also, throughout Wednesday evening, cars slid out of control on the Park Street hill, Platinum Street hill, and the northbound lane of Montana Street, according to the scanner. One vehicle rolled on Shields. Police called for sanders to those locations.
No injuries were reported from any of the crashes, Skuletich said.
Nick Sandford, the county’s road operations manager, said road crews began treating the main intersections Wednesday morning. Three sand trucks were out by 6 p.m., and the last sand truck stopped sanding at 1 a.m. Thursday. Sandford said the trucks were back out sanding the primary and secondary streets starting at 4 a.m. Thursday.
Public Works director Dave Schultz said that after the first big snowfall, people “have to learn to drive in winter conditions all over again.”
Schultz recommends drivers invest in snow tires and slow down.
“Allow more time to arrive,” Schultz said.
Even as the sun began to shine Thursday, accidents continued to occur throughout southwest Montana. Skuletich said a semi jackknifed at about 12:30 p.m. on Centennial Avenue on the bridge east of Excelsior. No one was hurt.
But one man was hurt in a crash on Interstate 90 at mile marker 155 near Highway 12, east of Drummond, where a westbound semi rolled at about 8 a.m. The passenger was inside the sleeper part of the cab and broke his arm, Montana Highway Patrol Thomas Gill said. The semi driver, who was not hurt, was going too fast for the conditions, according to Gill.
Neither drugs nor alcohol were involved. No citation will be issued, Gill said.
The storm brought approximately 1 to 2 inches of snow at the Bert Mooney Airport but more in higher elevations south of Butte; some areas of the county received four inches, according to Stephanie Henry, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Missoula.