With the monsoon season officially beginning tomorrow, June 15, Arizonans should be aware of the possible dangers the monsoon can bring both on the road and at home. Thunderstorms, flash floods, heavy rain
zero-visibility haboobs are all severe weather that will be seen during the next couple of months.
For the second year in a row, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has teamed up with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the National Weather Service for their campaign, “Pull Aside, Stay Alive.” Together, they seek to educate Arizona drivers on the dangers of being caught in a dust storm and on staying safe in dangerous driving conditions.
Turning off all lights while pulling to the side of the road is vital in avoiding accidents.
“Drivers tend to see the taillights and follow the light, and end up running into the back of the vehicles,” said ADOT’s Ryan Harding.
Dust storms and other monsoon-related weather can happen unexpectedly and motorists are encouraged to wait out the storms for their own safety.
Remember that when there is a reported “Dust Storm Watch,” this means the conditions are ideal for a dust storm to form; however, when there is a “Dust Storm Warning,” a dust storm is imminent and drivers should attempt to get off the road as soon as possible.
Flash floods can also cause great damage both to you and your vehicle. Arizona’s section 28-910 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, known as the “Stupid Motorist Law,” states that motorists who decide to cross any barricade during flooding and who become stranded can be billed up to $2,000 for the emergency services.
Even if you believe your vehicle can make it across safely, it is better to avoid flooded streets and washes as the fast moving current can potentially overpower your vehicle.
What many Arizonans don’t consider is the possibility of their homes flooding. AAA insurance encourages homeowners to “review your homeowner’s policy. Ensure they are protected against storm damage, including a flood. Standard homeowner’s policies do not have flood coverage.”
Heavy rain can cause major damage if the water levels get high enough. Personal belongings such as electronics, furniture and your home’s infrastructure can be damaged and without flood coverage, the damage will not be covered by your insurance.
“When it comes to flood insurance talk to your agent and check if you are in a specific high risk area since these can vary from specific areas and neighborhoods,” said John Candaso from AAA.
He said you can check if your Ahwatukee home is in a flood area by visiting floodsmart.gov and filling out the flood risk profile.
Arizona motorists will be notified of any dangerous weather this season via electronic highway boards, news and television stations, and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. ADOT also encourages drivers to spread the word on the importance of pulling over while caught in bad weather. The “Haboob Haiku Challenge” will be back this year on Twitter where users are encouraged to write their own Haiku about staying safe this monsoon season. Use the hashtag #HaboobHaiku for the chance to be retweeted by @ArizonaDOT so others can view your poetry.
• Brenda Carrasco is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.