Windy, dusty day makes for hazardous driving conditions

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(Source: ADOT) (Source: ADOT)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: ADOT) (Source: ADOT)
(Source: ADOT) (Source: ADOT)

It's a very dusty day outside and officials are warning drivers to use caution on the roads.

Winds have been picking up in the Phoenix area throughout the day and visibility is extremely poor in areas.

The Arizona Department of Transportation warns that if you run into a dust storm: "Pull Aside, Stay Alive."

On Thursday afternoon, blowing winds and low visibility forced the closure of two central Arizona highways.

Ryan Moore is the general manager for a home remodeling company. He had client appointments Thursday in Oracle, which is northeast of Tucson. But the visibility was so low that he pulled over to call his clients and cancel his appointments.

“At the end of the day, I just want to make sure that I’m safe and that other drivers on the road are safe,” Moore said. He recently moved to Arizona and has never driven in blowing dust before Thursday.

“It’s not something that I’ve ever experienced before. I’m used to rain, but a wall of dust is completely different,” Moore said. “You can see a couple hundred feet in front of you, but then it starts to get a little hazy.”

Arizona Department of Transportation officials say State Route 347 was closed in both directions north of Maricopa Thursday afternoon, causing long backups.

Interstate 10 also was closed in both directions near Casa Grande due to limited visibility.

We also have a high pollution advisory for Thursday because of the increased dust.

This was all caused by a dry storm system tracking across the Western U.S.

In the Valley, wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph are creating areas of blowing dust.

Dangerous driving conditions from reduced visibility down to less than a quarter of a mile at times is possible through this evening. A Blowing Dust Advisory is in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday. 

Blowing dust is a concern in northeastern Arizona as well. Dust Storm Warnings are in effect for this portion of the state until 7 p.m. Thursday, in addition to High Wind Warnings. Gusts of 65 mph are possible here.

Strong wind gusts, low relative humidity and dry fuel mean a high fire danger also. Red Flag Warnings are in effect statewide until 9 p.m. Thursday and will be reissued again Friday.

The winds will ease up slightly Friday evening, then subside Saturday.

Overnight lows and daytime highs will drop Thursday, then begin to rise Saturday through Monday before another windy and cooler storm moves in Monday afternoon through Tuesday.

In Phoenix, look for lows in the 50s Friday morning with highs in the upper 70s during the afternoon. Highs will rise to the mid 80s Saturday and the low 90s Sunday through Monday, before dropping again to around 80 degrees Tuesday.

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