Severe weather is no stranger to the desert Southwest. Dust storms, thunderstorms and flash floods are all common during the monsoon that begins June 15 and continues through September. There are many dangers involving the monsoon while you’re driving.
Many people don’t think about it until the time arrives, but knowing what to do if caught out on the road during these storms is important.
Here are six tips for driving during one of these storms.
Subscribe to media weather alerts and watch for upcoming storms. Stay off the roads if you know a storm is coming.
If you are caught in a storm while driving and visibility is low, turn on headlights and slow down to a cautious speed to see reasonable distance ahead.
Under extreme dusty conditions where the road is barely visible, pull off to the side of the road to get as far right as possible. Turn off the car and headlights, set the parking brake and keep off the brake pedal.
When driving in the rain or soon after it stops, it is important to pay close attention to traction. Rain may cause tires to hydroplane at certain speeds, which means the vehicle is literally driving on water. Slow down! Be watchful for fast moving vehicles, as they can splash up blinding sheets of water. By the time visibility clears, it might be too late. Water on the road may be deeper than it looks. Slow speed accordingly and drive with caution.
Pay attention to hazard signs such as “Do Not Cross When Flooded,” “Road Closed Due to Flooding,” and “Roadblocks.” Ignoring barriers or signs can threaten life and property which can result in legal enforcement by the police. Do not attempt to cross rain-swollen washes. A flash flood can quickly sweep a vehicle away. Control of the vehicle can be lost in just 6 inches of water. Most vehicles will begin to float in 2 feet of water.
If your car has stalled in water, climb onto the roof of the car and use a cell phone to dial 911. Be specific about location and wait to be rescued. If the water level is low enough to wade to safety, do so, but beware of floating debris, slippery rocks, currents and holes that are deeper than the water level. Get to dry land and find shelter immediately!