(Posted May 9, 2012, at 3:17 p.m.) The Arizona Department of Transportation is warning drivers that blowing dust has been reported this afternoon in Tucson, which could affect visibility for drivers traveling in southeast Arizona.
The National Weather Service has issued a dust storm warning for the greater Tucson area with 35-45 mph northbound winds forecasted until 4 p.m. today.
Travel along highways, including Interstate 10 (between Casa Grande and Tucson; and Tucson to the New Mexico state line) and Interstate 19 could be affected by dusty conditions.
ADOT urges drivers to take extra precaution as strong winds can result in sudden periods of limited or zero visibility due to blowing dust, especially in desert areas. Motorists play an important role in safety when operating their vehicles during a dust storm.
ADOT and the Arizona Department of Public Safety recommend the following driving tips when encountering a low-visibility dust storm:
· Avoid driving into or through a dust storm
· Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway; completely exit the highway if possible
· If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down
· Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway
· Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and not close to where other vehicles may travel
· Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers
· Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake
· Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass
· Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds
ADOT, along with DPS and NWS, will continue to work as a public safety team to support Arizona’s highways and drivers and will closely monitor conditions on the highways while maintaining driver safety.
Drivers planning trips are urged to monitor travel conditions by calling 5-1-1 within Arizona, 1-888-411-ROAD outside the state, or at www.az511.gov. The ADOT Traffic Operations Center has posted advisory messages on signboards with dust storm warning information.
Because weather conditions can quickly evolve, drivers are encouraged to regularly check in with ADOT’s Traveler Information Service. Motorists should delay travel plans if possible.
(source: Arizona Department of Transportation)