Summer is coming, and that means Dust storms (or “Haboobs”) are on the way. According to Wikipedia, a Haboob” (Arabic: هَبوب habūb "blasting/drafting") is a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs occur regularly in arid regions throughout the world. They are common in Arizona and usually occur between May and September. The most intense storms occur during the late summer months.
Dust storms can create dangerous, sometimes even deadly driving conditions. They can reduce visibility to zero. The area between Tucson and Phoenix is noted for being the only place in the United States to experience the "haboob," which have been measured in years past at a mile high, ten miles across and traveling across the desert at 50 to 60 mph.
Drivers need to be especially careful when they get behind the wheel of a car and practice safe driving habits so they don't find themselves "at one" with a large tree or worse, another vehicle. If you run into a severe dust storm, reduce the speed of your vehicle immediately and steer carefully off the highway. After you are off the paved portion of the roadway, turn off your vehicle's lights to ensure other cars do not follow you off the road and hit your vehicle. Wait until the dust storm passes before getting back on the highway. If you are walking or riding your bike, get inside quickly or seek shelter.
Here are some other tips to help drivers safely maneuver through the Valley during a haboob:
Where there is still visibility, reduce speed and turn on driving lights. Pull off the roadway.
After you are completely off the traveled portion of the roadway:
•Turn off driving lights
•Keep your car radio on
•If you are on the freeway, leave the freeway at an exit ramp, if possible.
•Wait until visibility is at least 300 feet before re-entering the roadway.
•Heavy rain may follow the dust storm.
If you see a dust storm forming in the distance, exit the roadway immediately.
For one who has been caught in a bad dust storm with zero visibility (called a “brown out”), I will tell you it is very scary. YOU know what to do---but do others? It only takes one driver who doesn’t know the proper safety procedures, or one driver who panics, to cause a very serious chain reaction that can result in serious, catastrophic or fatal injuries in a dust storm.
Please make sure that you are knowledgeable and that your family members are knowledgeable regarding the safety procedures.
Summer is coming. Be educated and be careful.