A dust storm usually arrives suddenly in the form of an advancing wall of dust and debris which may be miles long and several thousand feet high. This occurs when high winds raise large amounts of dust from areas of dry, loose, exposed Soil. They can strike with little warning, reducing visibility and make it difficult to breathe.
Blinding, choking dust also can quickly make driving conditions hazardous, causing accidents that may involve chain collisions. Dust storms usually last only a few minutes, but the actions a motorist takes during the storm may be the most important of his or her life. If possible, avoid the dust storm area.
Driving Safely in a Dust Storm
If you cannot pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility.
Turn on lights and sound horn occasionally.
Use the painted center line to help guide you.
Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway.
NEVER stop on the traveled portion of the roadway.
Pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible.
Stop, turn off your lights, set the emergency brake.
Take your foot off the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated.
Health Concerns and Precautions
Dust irritates the lungs and can trigger allergic reactions, as well as asthma attacks. Dust can cause coughing, wheezing, runny noses, and irritated eyes. Some groups of people, such as infants, pregnant woman, and seniors are more sensitive to dust than others. Breathing a lot of dust over a long period of time can cause chronic breathing and lung problems.
The best precaution is simply to avoid going outside during severe dust storms. If you must go out, spend as little time outside as possible. Wearing some type of covering over your nose and mouth can provide some protections from large particles. However, since the small dust particles are the most harmful, staying out of the dust is the best solution.
KNOW THE WIND SPEED AND DUST STORM LINGO
LIGHT OR LIGHT AND VARIABLE - wind is blowing from 0 to 5 mph
GENTLE BREEZE - wind is blowing from 5 to 15 mph
BREEZY, BRISK, BLUSTERY - wind is blowing from 15 to 25 mph
WINDY - wind is blowing from 20 to 30 mph
VERY WINDY - wind is blowing from 30 to 40 mph
STRONG, DANGEROUS, HIGH WINDS - wind is blowing at 40 mph or greater speeds
HIGH WIND WARNING - issued for sustained winds of 40 mph or more for 1 hour, or wind gusts 58 mph or greater
HIGH WIND WARNING - issued for sustained winds of40 mph or more for 1 hour, or wind gusts 58 mph or greater.
BLOWING DUST ADVISORY - issued when widespread
visibilities are at or below 1 mile but above ¼ mile due to
blowing dust for any extended period of time.
DUST STORM OR SAND STORM WARNING - Visibility of ¼ mile or less due to blowing dust or sand, and wind speeds of 30 miles an hour or more.