Most Common Natural Hazards

  1. Dust Storms
  2. Extreme Heat
  3. Flooding
  4. Monsoon Storms
  5. Wildfires

Thunderstorms frequently produce downbursts, straight line winds, and  tornadoes. All three of these wind types can create dust storms or  “haboobs". Dust Storms are unexpected, unpredictable and can sweep across desert landscapes at any time. During an average year, generally one to three dust storms will move into the Phoenix area, usually lasting a few minutes to an hour. They often come with no warning and can significantly reduce visibility, resulting in deadly multi-vehicle accidents on roadways. You can endure these brief but powerful windstorms if you know how to react.

BEFORE

  • Secure any outdoor items including furniture and loose gutters.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Trim tree branches away from your home. Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.
  • Close your doors and windows.
  • Consider turning off air conditioning/heating system until the dust storm passes.
  • Bring pets indoors.

DURING

  • Get as low to the ground as possible far away from roads and freeways.
  • Dust Storms often accompany severe winds and thunderstorms which could lead to flash flooding. Avoid trees and low lying areas.
  • Protect your face and any exposed skin. Cover your nose and mouth.
  • Do not drive into or through a dust storm. PULL ASIDE. STAY ALIVE.
  • Do not wait until there is low visibility to take action. Immediately check traffic around you and slowly and safely pull over as far as you can completely off the paved portion of the roadway. Do not stop in a travel lane or the emergency lane. Completely exit the highway if possible.
  • Turn off all of your lights, including emergency lights. Put the car in park and set the emergency brake. Take your foot off of the brake pedal. Other motorists may tend to follow taillights in an attempt to get through the dust storm, and may strike your vehicle from behind.
  • If you absolutely cannot pull off of the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility. Use painted lines as a guide. Turn on lights and occasionally sound the horn until you can safely pull off of the roadway.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelt buckled and wait for the storm to pass.

AFTER

  • If you are pulled over in a vehicle, check traffic and carefully return to the roadway.
  • Drive with caution. Anticipate traffic light outages and obstacles in the road. Report broken utility lines and damaged roadways/railways to appropriate authorities as soon as possible.

Dust Storm Brochure (PDF)

Dust Storm Brochure - Spanish (PDF)

More information on Severe Wind and Dust Storms

National Weather Service

Pull Aside Stay Alive