30-Foot Tumbleweed Pileup Traps Motorists In Washington

Many people picture tumbleweed as those sad, roughly sheep-sized balls that slowly roll through the main street of an Old West town as a handy visual cue to show just how much of a backwater the place is. However, sometimes horror is a numbers game. Even these seemingly harmless things can be downright terrifying if there’s enough of them.

The scenario: You’re driving on Highway 240 near Yakima, Washington, sometime around 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The conditions aren’t ideal, as the winds are somewhere between 40 and 50 mph, but hey, that’s life. Then, suddenly — smack! A tangled tumbleweed bumps into your car. And another. And another. Soon, the tangles start coming in like the sea, and to your shock, the stuff almost completely encases your vehicle. This is alarming because you’re driving a semi truck. It’s doubly alarming because there are also regular cars on the road. 

As NBC News tells us, a scenario not unlike this played out when a roaming mass of tumbleweed “fully encased” five cars on Highway 240 and even managed to “partially trap” a semi. The 911 calls from the trapped cars started coming in at about 6:30 p.m., and it only took 30 minutes for the tumbleweed to create a 30-foot pileup so bad that the highway had to be closed for over ten hours. The Department of Transportation actually had to send snow plows in to clear the area. 

Does tumbleweed do this often?

As disasters go, tumbleweed attacks fortunately don’t seem to be a common occurrence. As a Washington state trooper put it, “I worked in this area for 20 years and never seen tumbleweeds encase a car before.” Still, freak accident or not, getting buried under a tsunami of free-roaming terror hay is a pretty crazy way to start a new decade. People in two vehicles were so thoroughly scared that they actually abandoned the cars and got the heck out of Dodge with the magic of hitchhiking. Others had to “ring in their New Year fully encased in tumbleweeds.” And while there were no injuries reported, an officer notes that the people whose cars got the tumbleweed treatment “were not as amused as the rest of the people watching.”

It probably didn’t help that the officials decided to dub the event “Tumblegeddon 2020.”

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