But the rescues had nothing to do with wintry weather.
Tumbleweeds had piled up about 30 feet, blocking State Route 240 and leaving “several vehicles trapped,” including a semi-truck, according to Washington State Patrol. The road was closed in both directions around 6:30 p.m. near West Richland, Wash.
Trooper Chris Thorson shared a photo of Department of Transportation workers making their way through the piles of tumbleweeds in the dark as some drivers can still be seen in their vehicles.
Thorson said that the tumbleweeds were piled between 20 and 30 feet high in some places.
Strong winds blew the tumbleweeds into an area with berms near the roadway, troopers told KVEW, causing the tumbleweeds to create a much larger blockage than normal. Cars that stopped to avoid hitting the tumbleweeds quickly got buried.
No injuries were reported. Thorson said five cars and one 18-wheel semi-truck in total wound up trapped.
“People were still stuck at midnight and rung in the new year trapped under the weeds,” Thorson said.
On Wednesday, Thorson said that troopers found one abandoned, stuck car at daylight, but no one was inside.
A video from Thorson with the hashtag “tumblegeddon” showed workers from the DOT digging the vehicle out.
The WSDOT East said on Twitter that crews were continuing to keep watch on the highway.
“They will be patrolling through this evening to help keep the road open to traffic,” the agency said. “Please take care if you choose to travel through this area as winds continue to move the tumbleweeds around.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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