Arizona does not have blizzards or hurricanes and very rarely experiences tornadoes or earthquakes; however, this desert terrain has its own unique natural catastrophes. Typically, monsoons and dust storms are not life-threatening; however, being aware of them and how to handle them is key to remaining safe. Monsoon season is during the summer months, and dust storms can happen very quickly at any time. Here are several tips to staying safe if you ever catch yourself in the midst of either situation:
Dust Storms/ Dust Devils
Dust storms can occur very suddenly as well as stop just as abruptly. These storms are typically smaller than sandstorms and are created by a gust of winds picking up dust particles. These rolling winds are rarely life-threatening but can cause visual impairment while driving. If you see a dust storm while driving, acknowledge your surroundings before pulling over. Just because you stop does not mean the traffic behind you is aware. Begin to slow down and pull off the road safely. These dust barriers will typically pass rather quickly. If you are on foot, close your eyes and place your shirt over your nasal passage to help filter nuisance dust. Air quality is extremely poor inside these storms and can cause be bad on the respiratory system.
Monsoon/ Flash Floods
Typically, your daily weather station can alert you when monsoons or flash floods may occur. Avoid driving through the flood areas and prepare to evacuate if one is coming. Stay on high ground. While driving, if you see barricades, never drive around them onto closed roads. While they may seem safe at the time, flash floods are very aggressive and can come at any given moment. Never attempt to drive through moving water. The littlest stream can move a heavy vehicle. Make sure to stay out of camping areas in valleys or low ground areas during monsoon season as well.
Being cognitive of these disasters can help keep you safe. While they may seem less threatening than hurricanes or tornados, do not jeopardize driving through either. Safety is key! For more information on Arizona, make sure to subscribe.