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Arctic Invasion: trucks, school buses stranded by storm

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Nov 09 2012 06:32:04 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 10 2012 02:34:21 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Even truck drivers- who know the roads best- said Friday's snow storm was nothing to mess with.

"We got in last night probably around midnight or so, when it was really bad" said trucker Jimmy Henley, who was en route from Florida to Washington.

He didn't want to brave the conditions at night, so he and a coworker spent the night in Belgrade. "We couldn't see the roads and we shut it down, and just decided to wait until today and head out."

Henley took caution, but the dangerous driving didn't stop when the sun came up.

Less than an hour after Henley took off westbound, a semi truck slid off at the Highway 12 interchange near Three Forks.

While that truck blocked the left lane, a number of other trucks halted cars in the right.

Icy conditions on the Cardwell Hill stopped them right on the interstate. Trucks took the hill one-by-one, while the others stood by to see if they made it.

While some truckers chained up and waited to climb the icy slope, others exited- a few even turning around.

The whole ordeal stopped traffic for over a mile. People got out of their cars to look at what was going on.

Down the road to the east, this truck and fifth wheel jack-knifed off the highway.

Everyone was fine, but Montana Highway Patrol troopers said it was one of the worst accidents of the day.

"The first snow storm of the year always delays us a little bit" said Steve Johnson, with the Bozeman School District.

Folks on the interstate weren't the only ones that had a tough time- three buses from Bozeman schools called for help. One slid off into a ditch, but no one was hurt.

Johnson said other buses picked up the kids, but made it to school 30 minutes late.

"It was 45 miles an hour the whole way" said hunter Steve Hicks, who said he took it slow as he traveled from Billings to Ennis.

We caught up with Hicks and his hunting friends as they gassed up in Four Corners. Several accidents they saw served as a reminder to drive safe.

"We saw one that was flipped over, saw three others that were already in the ditch" he said. "It's been an adventurous trip- three hours from Billings to Bozeman."

MHP troopers said one of the main reasons no one got seriously injured on Friday is because people were slowing down and taking their time. And, they said, most everyone in an accident had a seatbelt on.

Troopers also advised drivers to avoid I-90, but said anyone traveling the roads needs to have tire chains because of bad conditions.