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ADOT says new dust detection system is working

A weather radar is part of the Arizona Department of Transportation's dust detection and...
A weather radar is part of the Arizona Department of Transportation's dust detection and warning system.(Arizona Department of Transportation)
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:45 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - When monsoon thunderstorms collapse in the desert, it can kick up a wall of dust that turns Arizona highways into a danger zone.

On a ten-mile stretch of Interstate 10 between Eloy and Picacho Peak in Southern Arizona, the Arizona Department of Transportation is implementing a program to help drivers stay safe in one of the worst places in the state for blowing dust. There are 13 visibility detectors along with cameras, and their own radar that can detect dust storms more than 40 miles away.

When that system detects dust moving in, drivers see special message boards light up telling them there’s now a lower speed limit. It’s been in place for two monsoon seasons now and ADOT says it’s working. We’re pretty happy with the results so far,” says ADOT spokesman Garin Groff. “We haven’t had a lot of dust events in the last two years, but when we have had dust events, we’ve noticed people are reducing their speed limits in driving through this area safely.”

The speed limit can change from between 35 to 75 miles per hour in this area, depending on the dust. If you’re caught in a dust storm, the safest thing to do is still to pull over, turn off your lights and take your foot off the brake.