The Arizona heat has captured most of the headlines over the past week, but did you know that dust is our state’s third deadliest weather hazard?
Dust storms are the third largest cause of weather fatalities in the state over the last 50 years, concluded a report published Tuesday by meteorologists with the National Weather Service and a University of Arizona atmospheric sciences researcher.
Fatalities from extreme heat or cold rank first and flash flooding is second, according to the report.
In terms of injuries, dust leads the list, and the number of deaths attributed to blowing dust might be higher if researchers could quantify the correlation between episodes of blowing dust and deaths from valley fever or respiratory failure.
The Weather Channel posted an unedited video of a dust storm blanketing Phoenix. You can see the video by clicking here or on the picture below.
Dust storms were wreaking havoc on Arizona highways last week and may have played a role in a number of crashes on both Interstate 8 and Interstate 10. According to a story in the Yuma Sun, “Dust storms can be dangerous situations. Visibility can be reduced to zero, which the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) says is akin to driving while wearing a blindfold.”
The ADOT offered some tips on its website to help drivers who find themselves in the middle of a dust storm.
- Immediately check traffic around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
- Don’t wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway.
- Don’t stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane.
- Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers. You do not want other vehicles approaching from behind to use your lights as a guide, possibly crashing into your parked vehicle.
- Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
- Stay in the vehicle with your seat belts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
Let us know how this underrated weather danger is affecting people in your community. Making sure Arizonans have the information they need to stay safe and healthy is a critical part of our long-term goal to make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!