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High winds, blowing dust, crashes prompt highway closures in eastern Colorado Friday

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Chris Sorensen

UPDATE: As of 3:30 p.m., the closures on Interstate 70 and Highway 287 had been lifted.

Wind gusts reaching nearly 70 miles per hour and blowing dust have prompted highway closures in eastern Colorado Friday.

Interstate 70 first closed in both directions between Limon and the Colorado border around 11:00 a.m. due to adverse conditions and multiple crashes. That closure was later extended to Airpark Road near Denver. The Colorado State Patrol says it is working multi-injury crashes, with at least one crash reported just west of Limon. There is no estimated time for reopening the road.

Further south, Highway 287 was closed in both directions between Kit Carson and Wiley, which was extended to Springfield around noon. That closure is also believed to be due to blowing dust that could reduce visibility to near zero. 

The National Weather Service offices in Pueblo and Goodland, Kansas, issued dust storm warnings for Kit Carson, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Prowers, Baca and Bent counties until at least mid-afternoon. Wireless Emergency Alerts were issued by the NWS multiple times to cell phones throughout the affected areas.

The NWS office in Boulder has also issued a blowing dust warning for Washington, eastern Elbert and Lincoln counties.

A high wind warning is also in effect for most eastern Colorado counties through 5:00 p.m. Sustained winds from the northwest are expected to be in the 30-40 mph range, while gusts to 65 mph hour or higher are possible.

A station south of Lamar recorded a gust of 67 mph shortly after 10:00 a.m. Cameras around the region are showing heavy dust and limited visibility.

In addition to the high wind and dust alerts, a red flag warning for high fire danger is also in effect for most eastern Colorado counties until 5:00 p.m. The warning also stretches to Pueblo and southern El Paso counties. Relative humidity in the mid-teens, along with no potential for precipitation, have increased the fire risk.