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Driving in Monsoon Weather

During Arizona’s monsoon season between mid-June and September, it’s possible you’ll get caught driving during a haboob. They’re more serious than their name would imply, so stay ready for one to sneak up on you.

These oppressive dust storms usually arrive suddenly in the form of an advancing wall of dust and debris miles long and several thousand feet high. They strike with little warning, making driving conditions hazardous. Blinding, choking dust can quickly reduce visibility and cause accidents that may involve chain collisions and massive pileups. They may come and go quickly, but it’s critical for drivers to react calmly and make adjustments. A few tips:

  • If dense dust is observed blowing across or approaching a roadway, check the traffic around you carefully.
  • Pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible.
  • Stop, turn off lights, set the emergency brake and take your foot off the brake pedal to make sure the tail lights are not illuminated.
  • Don’t enter the dust storm area if you can avoid it.
  • If you can’t pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on lights and sound horn occasionally. Use the painted centerline to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway.
  • Stay in your vehicle until the storm passes; then, proceed with caution, scanning the area for debris.


Turn your lights off during a dust storm

When you pull off to the side of the road during a dust storm, Turn your lights off. That way, vehicles approaching from the rear won’t confuse your lights as a guide and inadvertently leave the roadway or collide with your parked vehicle. Make sure all your lights are off when you park off the roadway.

During threatening weather listen to commercial radio or television or NOAA Weather Radio for Dust Storm Warnings. A Dust Storm (or Sand Storm) Warning means: Visibility of 1/2 mile or less due to blowing dust or sand, and wind speeds of 30 miles an hour or more.

May 19, 2020

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