Are you prepared?
Every year between the middle of June through the end of September, Arizona experiences its famous Monsoon Season. During this period of changing weather patterns, the normally dry air becomes dense and humid as air currents bring in new moisture from the south. This results in higher chances for evening dust storms, thunderstorms, heavy rain, and flash flooding. Monsoon storms can be unpredictable and dangerous for those unfamiliar or unprepared with this type of weather phenomenon. In particular, there are 3 primary monsoon dangers that you need to be aware of:
You've probably seen the iconic photographs showing huge walls of dust, hundreds of feet high, engulfing Arizona's cities during the monsoon season. Monsoon weather patterns can be intense, with winds exceeding 40 mph that can quickly stir up loose soil and debris in the desert. The result is a large dust storm that can bring visibility down to zero in only a few seconds. If you are caught driving in a dust storm, experts recommend pulling off of the road to the right as far as possible. Next, turn off your car, shut down the headlights, and keep your windows up. Be sure to also set the parking brake instead of using the brake pedal.
Pull Aside, Stay Alive
Strong monsoon winds can create large downbursts of air, which create dense blowing clouds of dust that reduce visibility to near zero in seconds.
If you are caught in a dust storm, pull your vehicle off the roadway, place your vehicle in park, turn off your vehicle’s lights, and take your foot off the brake. Remain inside your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened and wait for the storm to pass.
Find quick tips for staying safe in a dust storm from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Did you know that an average Arizona monsoon season can produce more than 420,000 lightning strikes? With lightning strikes comes danger in the form of fires and electrocution. Experts advise staying indoors, avoiding being near water, and staying away from metal objects that can conduct electricity. Experts also advise staying away from tall objects such as trees and power lines.
Flash flooding resulting from monsoon storms can be extremely dangerous. The majority of flood-related deaths in Arizona are from people attempting to drive through flooded roadways. Just six inches of water can knock over an adult, and as little as one foot of water can move a vehicle. Two feet of moving water can easily carry a vehicle away. Experts warn that if you can't see the pavement underneath the water, then you shouldn't risk driving through it. Floodwater can be flowing significantly deeper and faster than it appears. Never drive around barricades, it is much safer to find another route than endangering your life.
Turn Around, Don't Drown
Due to the geographic makeup of our state, the weather can vary dramatically from region to region. When traveling throughout Arizona, pay attention to weather reports, watches, and warnings, current conditions, conditions forecasted for the areas you are traveling through, and conditions for your final destination.
Heavy monsoon rains can lead to flash flooding. Don’t underestimate the power of water. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock down an adult, and 18 inches of water can carry most vehicles away. Avoid low-water crossings and areas that are already flooded. Never drive around barricades or attempt to cross streets with flowing water.
For flood-related information, visit our Flood Control District page
Information from the Pinal County Public Works Road Maintenance Department
Road maintenance crews try their best to close flooded roadways as soon as possible, but motorists may be in the area before crew workers can get to a location. Use good judgment, and do not attempt to drive through a road with moving water, whether it has barricades or not. Water can be deeper than it appears. According to the National Weather Service, it only takes 1 to 2 feet of water to carry away most vehicles. However, the impact from rushing water can start far shallower than that. Six inches of water can reach the bottom of most passage cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. Turn Around, Don’t Drown. Citizens, please contact us if you notice a roadway is starting to flood. We will get crew members out there as soon as possible to assess the situation.
Pinal County Public Works Road Maintenance will be on the scene to conduct repairs as soon as a safe opportunity is available. Please be alert and comply with all warning signs, and drive with caution on Pinal County roadways for the safety of yourself, Pinal County workers, and equipment.
Please call our Citizen Contact Center line at 520-866-6411 during business hours from 8 am to 5 pm with inquiries. You may also call the Sheriff's Office at 520-866-5111 during after-hours. For emergencies, please dial 9-1-1
Sandbags are available for Pinal County Residents. Pinal County will only provide sandbags and sand. You will need to bring your own shovel to load the bags. There is a limit of 25 bags per household.
For more information, visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network