Wind topples big-rigs on Highway 46 East near Cholame
Update, 5:40 p.m:
Highway 41 has also reopened following the trucks being cleared.
Update, 4:20 p.m.:
Highway 46 east of the interchange at Cholame has reopened.
Regular traffic resumed in the area just after 4 p.m.
Highway 41, which also closed due to the overturned trucks and an RV, is still closed.
Update, 3:30 p.m.:
Strong wind gusts on Friday afternoon near the Highway 46/41 interchange at Cholame caused at least three vehicles to overturn, including two semi-trailers, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The CHP said the crashes happened almost simultaneously and caused a partial shutdown of the two highways just after 11 a.m.
Highway 41 remains closed in both directions, while Highway 46 westbound from Bakersfield is open to passenger vehicles.
Crews began working to right the vehicles, which also included a fifth-wheel RV, soon after. The fifth wheel was righted a couple hours after the accident and the semi-trailer at the intersection of the two highways just before 3 p.m.
The driver of that big-rig was able to walk away from the scene but was taken to the hospital with unspecified injuries.
The other semi-trailer was blown off the road on Highway 41, about a mile north of the Cholame Y, toward Fresno,” said CHP Officer Scott Koolman. As of 3 p.m., crews were still working to get it back upright.
Koolman attributed each of the incidents to light loads or empty trailers.
“We are debating on keeping the roads closed due to high winds or warning people that there is high winds,” Koolman said, adding that if the roads were reopened, he hoped it would be before sunset.
“When the sun starts going down, it becomes unsafe whether it’s high winds or other factors,” Koolman said. “We are trying to keep people from being out here.”
Koolman said the forecast called for gusts up to 70 miles per hour in the area, but added he wasn’t sure of the exact wind speeds at the time.
“To blow a big-rig over, it takes a pretty big gust,” Koolman said.
Koolman’s advice to drivers thinking of using the highways: “Just stay at home.”
Update, 2 p.m.:
A portion of Highway 41 between Highway 33 and Highway 46 was also closed Friday afternoon due to the strong winds and trucks blocking traffic.
Two more semi-trucks overturned because of the high winds, according to Caltrans, bringing the total to three trucks overturned in the area Friday.
Highway 46 near Cholame is closed Friday afternoon after wind blew over a semi-truck and multiple other car accidents blocked traffic on the highly traveled corridor.
According to CHP spokesman Pat Seebart, a semi-truck was blown over by the wind near the Cholame “Y” intersection about 11:20 a.m., blocking the road. Minutes later, another traffic incident was reported less than a mile north of the truck site.
The road was closed to all traffic while CHP attempted to clear the roadway. There is no estimated time for the highways to reopen.
Traffic is being turned around near the Shandon Rest Area and at Highway 33 and Highway 46 on the Kern County side.