Dust and wind headed our way; ADOT taking precautions

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Get ready for a change in the weather. Strong winds and blowing dust could be headed our way, and no one is taking any chances. ADOT is taking precautions now ahead of the possibility of Friday's high winds and blowing dust.

Beginning in the early morning hours Friday, warnings signs will be put up on all freeway message boards between Phoenix and Tucson. In addition, extra portable signs will be placed along I-10, and extra staff will be surveying the area.

"We'll have maintenance crews patrolling the area, extra eyes on the ground, so they can let us know if there's blowing dust," said Doug Pacey, a spokesman with ADOT.  "Typically, the storms pop up quickly and out of nowhere."

Just last month, an isolated dust storm caused a massive pile-up on I-10 near Picacho Peak which killed three people.

Emergency officials say while the dust storms are hard to predict, the trouble spots are known and exist from Tucson to Phoenix, especially in the area of Picacho Peak, Eloy and Casa Grande.

"My husband pulls over all the time," said Jasmine Lopez whose husband works in the East Valley.

However, DPS says too many drivers try to power through the dangerous storms, putting themselves and others in danger. 

"When there are people going that fast, semi-trucks thrown in, if you get hit, you're toast," said Lopez.  "It's nothing to take lightly."

ADOT urges drivers who experience blowing dust and reduced visibility to safely pull off the road, turn off your lights, and wait out the storm in a safe location.