Staying prepared during Arizona’s summer monsoon season

By John Halikowski / ADOT Director

Interstate 40 near Winslow during a dust stormIf you have lived in Arizona as long as I have, you know our summers are hot. We look forward to receiving any amount of heavy rain that brings any relief to the heat and much needed water to our parched deserts. 

Summer also means our monsoon season has arrived. According to the National Weather Service, Arizona’s summer monsoon season starts mid-June and lasts through the end of September. We can anticipate storms that bring lightning, rain and walls of dust. Driving through a dust storm can be dangerous and ill-advised, no matter where you are.

Monsoon Awareness Week is June 12-18 this year. It provides the Arizona Department of Transportation the opportunity to remind drivers of the dangers associated with our monsoon storms, especially dust storms. Our “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” safety campaign provides drivers with the tools to stay safe, if you are ever near or caught in a dust storm. Remember to:

  • Check traffic all around you and begin to slow down
  • Pull off to the side of the road or exit if you can
  • Turn off your lights including emergency flashers
  • Set the emergency brake and leave your foot off the brake
  • Stay in your vehicle and buckle up
  • Wait for the storm to pass

There is a particular stretch of Interstate 10 in southern Arizona where we have had huge dust storms and multi-vehicle crashes. Trying to predict when and where these dust storms will occur has been a challenge for ADOT and our partners, the National Weather Service and the Department of Public Safety.

Becoming operational in 2019, the first-in-the-nation dust detection and warning system is located on a 10-mile stretch on Interstate 10 near Eloy, between mileposts 209 and 219. The dust-detection technology employed includes overhead message boards, variable speed limit signs, closed-circuit cameras and short-range detectors for blowing dust. In addition, a long-range weather X-Band radar dish is part of the system, sitting atop a 22-foot-tall pole at the SR 87 interchange that can detect storms more than 40 miles away. So far, the dust detection system is working as designed and has helped detect and warn drivers of blowing dust. 

I would encourage you to add the AZ511 app to your phone for up-to-the-minute road alerts. If inclement weather is coming, you may be advised to delay travel or seek alternate routes.

Staying prepared during our summer monsoon season ensures that everyone gets Safely Home!


John S.Halikowski, ADOT Director

   


This post originally appeared on ADOT Director John Halikowski's LinkedIn page. He has led the agency since 2009.

 

 

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