Motorist advisory: Incoming winds, dust make for dangerous highways

This April 2014 file photo shows the effect of a dangerous dust storm that obscured visibility on Interstate 15 near Parowan. Two separate pileups occurred nearly simultaneously involving collectively 13 vehicles. Parowan, Utah, April 25, 2014 | File photo by and courtesy of Kelly Byl, St. George News

UTAH – The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for west central and southwest Utah Tuesday with particular cautions to drivers.

Dotted areas denote region subject to strong wind advisory. Map generated Sept. 12, 2016, at 3:54 p.m. | Image courtesy of National Weather Service, St. George News
Dotted areas denote region subject to strong wind advisory. Map generated Sept. 12, 2016, at 3:54 p.m. | Image courtesy of National Weather Service, St. George News / Cedar City News | Click on image to enlarge

The advisory is in effect from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday. Motorists may experience sudden gusty crosswinds that make driving difficult and blowing dust that may hinder visibility to below 1 mile at times.

Strong winds will create hazardous driving conditions especially for high profile and lightweight vehicles.

East-to-west oriented roadways such as U.S. Highway 6 and state Highway 21 will be most impacted by strong crosswinds.

South winds 25- 35 mph are expected with gusts in excess of 45 mph becoming strong Tuesday afternoon and remaining strong through the evening before diminishing.

Red flag alert

In addition to dangers to motorists, strong winds and low humidity have given rise to a red flag warning for critical fire weather Tuesday. That warning has been in effect since noon Sunday and remains in effect until midnight Tuesday.

Read more: Critical fire weather incoming, precautions to take

Dust storms can be deadly

Dust storms pose a serious public safety risk because they can strike out of nowhere.

An Arizona Department of Transportation campaign in 2015 called “Pull Aside, Stay Alive,” reported on by St. George News in June 2015, offered safety tips for drivers encountering a dust storm:

  • Avoid driving into or through a dust storm
  • If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down
  • Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway – do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can
  • Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway
  • Stop your vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers
  • 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
  • Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds in high wind
  • A driver’s alertness and safe driving ability are always the top factors in preventing crashes. It is your responsibility to avoid distracted or impaired driving

Although the campaign was in neighboring Arizona, Utah is not immune to dust storms. For example, in April 2014, a dust storm in Parowan caused two simultaneous accidents involving a total of 13 cars. Again in May 2014, a sporadic dust storm on I-15, 3 miles south of the Panguitch exit, created poor visibility cited as a factor in collisions involving six vehicles.

Read and see more here: Deadly dust storms on the highway; ‘Pull Aside, Stay Alive’

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic  @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.




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