Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!

Where will you be when the dust settles?

Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!
Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!

That’s a question the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is asking motorists this year as another summer monsoon season begins.

Each year, a variety of weather related dangers affect Arizona, New Mexico, and southwest Texas, especially from late spring into early autumn. Through a collaborative effort between National Weather Service offices serving the states of Arizona and New Mexico, which includes offices located in Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, El Paso/Santa Teresa, and Midland/Odessa, the time period from June 15th through September 30th has been defined as “The Monsoon”.

Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!
Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!

For the fourth consecutive year, ADOT is rolling out its “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” dust storm public awareness campaign in an ongoing effort to educate drivers about the year-round threat of dust storms as monsoon season officially began in Arizona last week. Dust storms pose a serious public safety risk because they can strike out of nowhere. Motorists can protect themselves if they plan ahead and know the safe actions to take when the dust hits.

This year, ADOT has created new television and radio public-education announcements that ask drivers if they know what to do if they get caught in a sudden dust storm event. The new TV public service announcement depicts a young driver following all the safety recommendations when she sees a dust storm while driving along a highway.

Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!
Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!

ADOT’s mission is to provide useful and memorable safety information to drivers before they get caught in a low-visibility dust storm. This year, the agency’s top recommendation is to avoid driving into a wall of dust at all costs.

“As the monsoon arrives, this year we’re asking drivers to do the smart thing, the safe thing, and plan ahead for possible blowing dust and limited visibility along the highway,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski.

“It’s better to alter travel plans rather than attempting to drive through dust storms. It’s a risk you don’t have to take.”

Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!
Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!

Dust storms develop quickly and dust-related crashes can occur, particularly along the Interstate 10 corridor between Phoenix and Tucson. To advise drivers of approaching storms, ADOT employs a range of strategies—including electronic highway message boards, social and traditional media, communication with ADOT staff, and law enforcement officers in the field, television, and radio advertising, and close coordination with partnering agencies—to keep information flowing to motorists.

Please visit pullasidestayalive.org for the new public-education video, along with videos from past years. The website also includes a safety tip sheet.

Tips For Drivers Who Encounter a Dust Storm

Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!
Where Will You Be When The Dust Settles? Pull Aside, Stay Alive!

Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.

If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back, and to the side) and begin slowing down.

Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway—do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.

Do not stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.

Stop your vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel.

Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.

Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.

Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.

Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds in high wind.

A driver’s alertness and safe driving ability are always the top factors in preventing crashes. It is your responsibility to avoid distracted or impaired driving.

Worth Pondering…

Sand from the desert

An oppressive wind blowing

Good grief, pull aside

Read More

Top Tips For Driving in Winter Weather

RV travel doesn’t have to stop with the arrival of winter, but there are considerations to keep in mind when driving in cold weather.

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.
The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure you and your RV is prepared, and that you know how to handle winter road conditions.

Prepare an emergency survival kit containing a cell phone, warm blankets, gloves, salt or sand, LED flashlights, first aid kit, NOAA Weather Radio, road flares, bottled water, and non-perishable food. Inspect tires, use tires designed to operate in snow and ice, and keep tires inflated to proper levels. Inspect wipers and wiper blades. Make sure you have a snowbrush and ice scraper in to remove snow and ice. Sunglasses help cut glare from snow.

There are no secrets when it comes to winter driving. If there is ice on the road, it is dangerous.

If you’re driving on ice, you may not know it until you need to stop. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a 4-wheel drive, a fifth-wheel or travel trailer, or a motorhome: brakes are the great equalizer.

Ice on your windshield means ice on the road. The ice doesn’t have to be packed up on the roadway to be dangerous—a thin sheet of ice can develop quickly into a thick problem.

Keep an eye on the temperature. Water freezes at 32 degrees. The roadways tend to be slightly warmer than the air temperature, but once you’re down that low in temperature, you need to be wary.

Winter
There are no secrets when it comes to winter driving. If there is ice on the road, it is dangerous.

Look for spray coming up from other vehicles. If spray is coming off the tires, it’s likely that the roads are wet (as opposed to ice covered), but keep in mind that a short stretch of road with ice on it can be just as dangerous as an ice-packed roadway.

Do not follow too close.

Watch for warning signs. If there are vehicles spun out in the median or shoulder, the roads are bad. If you start seeing big semis spun out, it’s time to get your RV off the road. It’s not worth endangering your life and the life of your family. If you can’t find a nearby RV park or campground locate the nearest truck stop or Walmart to overnight.

Be sure to keep your fuel tanks full so you won’t run out.

Prior to departure check weather conditions along your intended travel route. When traveling, listen to local radio stations for the forecast and update on current weather and road conditions.

Minnesota in winter (Source: minnesota.publicradio.org)
Minnesota in winter (Source: minnesota.publicradio.org)

Any vehicles traveling through mountain passes and northern states and provinces may be required to carry a set of tire chains available in case of a snow or ice storm. Practice putting them on while it’s warm and dry. Motorhome owners might want to consider the damage a broken tire chain could inflict upon the fiberglass body of their rig. If possible, avoid roads where chains are required.

Drive an RV slower than you would drive a car—especially in bad weather. Leave extra room between your RV and the vehicle in front of you. RVs require even more time and room to stop in bad weather.

Use extra caution when traveling across bridges and overpasses. They freeze before the road.

Vision can be hindered when driving during a bright, sunny day and the surroundings are snow covered. Wear sunglasses to reduce glare and improve vision.

winterrvtipsWorth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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Wind Gust Tips Over RVs

Wind gusts can and do blow over recreational vehicles when parked in extremely windy locations.

Campers are tipped over after an apparent tornado moved through Northampton County, Virginia
Campers are tipped over after an apparent tornado moved through Northampton County, Virginia (Photo: Holly Taylor image)

In an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing I offered suggestions on dealing with high winds when driving on the highway or parked in an RV park or campground.

At what wind speed should you be concerned? RVs have been known to weather 75 mph wind gusts without tipping over, but the “rock-a-bye-baby” effects proved intensely worrisome to RV occupants.

If you are concerned about the potential effects of the wind, consider parking the nose of your RV into the wind. The less surface area the wind blows against, the better.

The pressure of the wind on your vehicle is called “wind load” and you can decrease it immensely by pointing the front of your RV into the wind as opposed to having the wind blow across the length of your RV.

For the average size RV in a 60 mph wind, the wind load is 2967 pounds when the side of the RV is to the wind. However, when the RV’s nose is to the wind, the wind load decreases to 1032 pounds. You face less than half the wind load simply by pointing your nose into the wind.

While changing campsites may not always be practical, retracting the slideouts that face the wind is a simpler alternative that will at least lessen the wind’s effect on slide toppers.

Some people had to cut from their trailers after a microburst overturned several of them at an RV park in Buckeye, Arizona.
Some people had to cut from their trailers after a microburst overturned several of them at an RV park in Buckeye, Arizona. (Photo: CBS 5 News)

Ohio: High Winds Flip RVs

American Press reports that one man was injured when strong storms overturned recreational vehicles at an Ohio campground. The line of storms ripped through the Walnut Lake campground in Jeffersonville between Columbus and Cincinnati on July 14. Media reports say the injured man was in an RV that flipped several times in the high straight-line winds. Interstate 71 was also closed because of downed power lines and trees in that area. Traffic backed up for miles as crews cleared the highway.

Ohio: RVs Damaged As Storm Downs Tree

WKBN-TV reports that residents of an RV park near Lake Milton are cleaning up after a storm blew through the area. The localized storm hit about 8:30 p.m. on July 14. Trees landed on top of an RV and a trailer and another toppled over onto a tractor at the Lake Milton RV Resort in Berlin Center, which sits south of the lake on the river. Mahoning County EMA Director Dennis O’Hara said the damage resembles that of a localized microburst.

Idaho: RV Damaged AS Storm Downs Trees, Knocks Out Power

Coeur d’Alene Press reports that strong thunderstorms which moved through North Idaho produced numerous downed trees and power outages. The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office reported a high volume of calls for downed trees, blocked roadways, and compromised power lines on July 23. As of 8 p.m., only one injury was reported, the result of a tree falling onto an RV at the Silverwood RV Park.

Virginia: Two Campers Dead & 20 Injured At Campground

Delmara Now reports that Virginia State Police has confirmed two deaths and at least 20 injured in the severe storm that swept through the Cherrystone Campground in Cheriton on the morning of July 24. Those injured were transported to nearby hospitals.

Emergency personnel units from Accomack and Northampton counties responded to multiple traumatic injuries at the campground, police said. Injuries reported included a priority one head injury. An injured child was transported to a Hampton Roads hospital.

Just before 9 a.m., there was a report seeking help at Cherrystone Campground, where there reports of overturned campers and a fallen tree on a tent. Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital is treating 26 patients from the Cherrystone Campground tornado disaster.

High Winds Can Damage Your RV
High Winds Can Damage Your RV (Credit: RGJ)

Arizona: Microburst Topples trailers

WSMV-TV reports that at least 15 trailers at the Leaf Verde RV Park in Buckeye were toppled during a furious microburst on the evening of July 31. Three people suffered minor injuries, and some park residents said some trailers had to be cut open to get people out.

Most of the trailers were vacant because it’s a seasonal park and many residents left for the hot summer. Some trees were also uprooted by the storm. The return of the monsoon will also bring a cooling trend over the weekend with highs reaching only the upper 90s.

Worth Pondering…

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not
—Anon

Read More

High Winds Can Damage Your RV

High winds can be unsettling, whether you’re driving an RV or parked in an RV park or campground.

High Winds Can Damage Your RV (Source: newsnet5.com)
High Winds Can Damage Your RV (Source: newsnet5.com)

Winds can be unpredictable, loud, and damaging. Before you take to the road, check the weather reports for the areas you’ll be driving through. If wind gusts or high winds could occur, you want to be aware of it so you can deal with the situation properly.

Winds can be deadly. They can overturn your RV, your tow vehicle, and cause major damage to them. In severe cases, you may become trapped or separated from your RV which leads to a handful of other dangerous situations.

If you’re driving when high winds or gusts occurs, you’ll know immediate because you’ll feel it.

The best thing to do when wind is hitting an RV from the side is to drive slower.

Do not speed during a windstorm. You never know when the wind will change direction severely affecting your ability to control your RV.

Reduce your speed when high winds occur. The faster you travel, the greater effect the wind will have on your vehicle. When wind gusts are 30 mph and you’re traveling at a speed of 45 mph, you’ll create a vacuum effect of a 75 mph wind gust around your vehicle.

If winds are severe and you no longer feel safe driving, wait it out by pulling well off to the side of the highway. If you stop too close to the road, a severe gust could move another vehicle into the path of your RV. Be aware of the traffic around you before you park to wait out a windstorm. Be even more cautious in the event of blowing dust or sand.

 

dust storm
An approaching dust storm over Phoenix. (Source: gawker.com)

Dust storms that turn day into night are a hazard to drivers. Dust storms can strike with little warning. Blinding, choking dust can quickly reduce visibility, causing accidents that may involve chain collisions, creating massive pileups.

Wind can be an issue even on an otherwise pleasant day. In many regions of the U.S. and Canada a fast moving front can produce substantially strong winds seemingly at anytime and in any season. Unexpected high winds and gusts can occur anywhere and at any time.

These winds can cause difficulty for the driver to maintain one’s own lane especially when driving an Interstate highway. Wind gusts, as opposed to a steady wind state, can amplify the problem greatly.

Numerous accidents occur as a result of driving in high wind conditions. These range from damaging a mirror to side-swiping a passing semi-truck and being struck by a flying object to leaving the road due to loss of control.

Know your vehicle and control level in windy conditions.  If you are driving with white knuckles or become nervous, you have passed your driving comfort level. Slow it down.

As a general rule, reduce speed by 10 percent when wind conditions are between 15 and 20 mph and a further 10 percent for every 10 mph over 20. However, do not drive at a speed less than the minimum posted. If such a speed is warranted due to wind, it is time to get off the road and find a camping site.

All RV’s are capable of being upset by the wind force. Fortunately, in general, it takes a considerable wind force, far more than you would think to flip a trailer or motorhome.

If high winds or inclement weather ever have you concerned while driving or towing your RV, pull off the road and wait it out. It’s simply not worth jeopardizing your safety and the safety of your rig.

High Winds Can Damage Your RV (Credit: RGJ)
High Winds Can Damage Your RV (Credit: RGJ)

Only travel if absolutely necessary. It sounds obvious, but the best way to avoid having your RV tip over in high winds is to avoid driving in those conditions. Putting aside the damage to your RV in the event of an accident, the risk of injury to you and your passengers safety, it is simply not worth the risk.

Worth Pondering…

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not
—Anon

Read More

RV Severe Weather Safety Tips

Severe weather can happen at any time, anywhere.

Source: accuweather.com
Source: accuweather.com

Being prepared to act quickly could be a matter of survival. Knowing what to do before, during, and following severe weather is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.

Be Informed

Know the risk in your area for hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, damaging winds, dust storms, wild fires, blizzards, ice storms, and other severe weather phenomena.

Visit weather.gov to get the latest on weather threats.

NOAA Weather Radio is a network of radio stations in the U.S. that broadcast continuous weather information directly from a nearby Weather Forecast Office of the service’s operator, National Weather Service (NWS), an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA Weather Radio continuously broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, alerts, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day. It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety.

Source: epawablogs.com
Source: epawablogs.com

The average range is 40 miles, depending on topography. The National Weather Service recommends purchasing a radio that has both a battery backup and a tone-alert feature which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued.

Make a Weather Disaster Plan

The next step in severe weather preparedness is creating a weather disaster plan, putting an emergency kit together, and keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place.

Most emergency preparedness plans have several steps in common, such as having a well-stocked first aid kit. Some general disaster plan steps and resources common to any weather emergency would benefit most RVers.

Begin your plan with one or more ways of staying on top of weather forecasts. RVers commonly travel with TV reception, computers, or cell phone Internet access, useful for getting weather reports.

Some communities use sirens as a warning system. Check with your campground regarding local siren signals, storm shelters, and its weather emergency plan.

Build an Emergency Kit

Assemble your emergency survival kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and will NOT have time to search for the supplies you need.

Have an emergency package of basic supplies, and keep them readily accessible in an easy-to-carry kit.

Prepare for a weather disaster by gathering emergency supplies including water, non-perishable food, can opener, first aid kit, medications and medical treatment items, flashlights, extra batteries, cell phone with charger, NOAA Weather radio, emergency cash, pet supplies, important personal documents and medical information, road maps, emergency blankets, flameless LED candles, emergency tools, emergency contact information including family, friends, and doctors, and a full tank of fuel.

You personal documents such include copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.

Additional Safety Tips

Source: eye4weather.info
Source: eye4weather.info

ALWAYS know the county in which you are located, so that you can get accurate weather information (National Weather Service severe weather warnings are issued based on counties).

DO NOT drive into a flooded area.

30/30 Rule – if the time between lightning strikes and thunder is less than 30 seconds, you need to take shelter.

NEVER try to outrun a tornado in any vehicle; instead, take shelter immediately. When a tornado approaches, anyone in its path should move to a pre-designated shelter—preferably a designated storm shelter or basement. Recreational vehicles and mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.

Stay in regular contact with your family or close friends—let them know you are safe.

Worth Pondering…

Safety doesn’t happen by accident.

Read More

Pull Aside & Stay Alive

Do you know what to do if you encounter a dust storm?

An approaching dust storm over Phoenix. (Source: gawker.com)
An approaching dust storm over Phoenix. (Source: gawker.com)

Pull aside and stay alive!

Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has a message for drivers who think they can recklessly drive head-on into a dust storm: “Pull Aside, Stay Alive.”

Following the successful launch of last year’s public awareness campaign, ADOT is intensifying its efforts to educate drivers about the threat of dust storms as monsoon season officially started in Arizona on June 15.

ADOT, along with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the National Weather Service, has reactivated its “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” public awareness campaign including television and radio public-education announcements to educate drivers about what to do—and what NOT to do—when they encounter a dust storm.

ADOT’s mission is to provide valuable information to drivers before they get caught in a low-visibility dust storm.

This year, the agency’s top recommendation is to avoid driving into a wall of dust at all costs.

“Driving into a dust storm is dangerous, and oftentimes it can be avoided. This is a message that can’t be emphasized enough,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski.

“During monsoon season, drivers and their passengers must do their part by planning ahead if there are threats of a dust storm. It’s better to alter travel plans than to attempt to drive through dangerous conditions.

A major dust storm swept through Arizona on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 (Credit: Joseph Pickett/bestforbegginers.com)
A major dust storm swept through Arizona on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 (Credit: Joseph Pickett/bestforbegginers.com)

“But if you’re on the road and a dust storm suddenly appears near you, pull off the highway as quickly and safely as possible. Do not drive through a dust storm. It’s a risk you don’t have to take and remember to never drive distracted.”

Dust storms develop quickly, and dust-related crashes can occur, particularly along the Interstate 10 corridor between Phoenix and Tucson.

If you encounter a dust storm, immediately check traffic around your vehicle (front, back, and to the sides) and begin slowing down.

DO NOT wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway—do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.

DO NOT stop in a travel lane or in the emergency lane. Look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway.

Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.

Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.

Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.

Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.

A major dust storm swept through Arizona on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 (see photos above and below). The dust storm was triggered from thunderstorms to the south of the Phoenix metro area. Dust was blown up by high winds. The winds were estimated to be over 60 miles per hour and caused low visibility. The storm went through the city of Phoenix a little after 7:00 p.m. local time.

Dust Wall moves into Phoenix East Valley, July 5, 2011 (Source: Grand Canyon Suppliers/kjrh.com)
Dust Wall moves into Phoenix East Valley, July 5, 2011 (Source: Grand Canyon Suppliers/kjrh.com)

Local flights in the area were delayed because of the storm. Power outages were also reported.

Details

Pull Aside Stay Alive

To advise drivers of approaching storms, ADOT employs a range of strategies to maintain a timely flow of information to motorists.

These strategies include electronic highway message boards, social and traditional media, communication with ADOT staff and law enforcement officers in the field, television and radio advertising, and close coordination with partnering agencies.

ADOT, along with its partnering agencies, has established PullAsideStayAlive.org to showcase the public-education video and to reinforce driver safety messages.

The website also includes a tip sheet, which ADOT encourages drivers to print and keep handy in their vehicle.

A driver’s alertness and safe driving ability are always the top factors in preventing crashes.

Visit ADOT’s Travel Information site at az511, call 5-1-1 within Arizona, or 1-888-411-ROAD outside the state for current information regarding road conditions statewide.

Website: PullAsideStayAlive.org

Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on Surviving Dust Storms

Part 1: Top 5 Ways to Survive a Dust Storm

Worth Pondering…

On the fourteenth day of April in 1935
There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky…
From Oklahoma City to the Arizona Line
Dakota and Nebraska to the lazy Rio Grande
It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down,
We thought it was our judgment, we thought it was our doom…
—Woody Guthrie, from his song, The Great Dust Storm

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Top 5 Ways to Survive a Dust Storm

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.

In a scene reminiscent of the 1930s Dust Bowl, on October 18, 2011, Lubbock, Texas went from light to dark in an instant, as the 8,000 foot dust cloud, traveling at a whizzing 70 mph, swept through. (Image via YouTube)
In a scene reminiscent of the 1930s Dust Bowl, on October 18, 2011, Lubbock, Texas went from light to dark in an instant, as the 8,000 foot dust cloud, traveling at a whizzing 70 mph, swept through. (Image via YouTube)

Dust storms that turn day into night are a hazard to drivers. Dust storms can strike with little warning. Blinding, choking dust can quickly reduce visibility, causing accidents that may involve chain collisions, creating massive pileups.

Dust Storms are among nature’s most violent and unpredictable phenomena. High winds lift dirt particles or, in the case of sandstorms, sand, into the air, unleashing a turbulent, suffocating cloud of particulates and reducing visibility to almost zero in a matter of seconds.

Nearly all dust storms are capable of causing property damage, injuries, and deaths, and they can occur in any arid or semi-arid climate.

Dust storms usually last only a few minutes, but the actions a driver takes during the storm may be the most important of his or her life.

No matter where you live, it’s a good idea to know what to do if you see a wall of sand racing toward you.

1. Heed Dust Storm Warnings

Since dust storms are most likely to occur on hot summer days under certain atmospheric conditions, meteorologists can frequently predict the possibility of these storms.

During threatening weather listen to commercial radio or NOAA Weather Radio for Dust Storm Warnings.

A Dust Storm (or Sand Storm) Warning means: Visibility of ½ mile or less due to blowing dust or sand, and wind speeds of 30 miles an hour or more.

2. Be Prepared

A massive dust storm descended on the Phoenix area on Tuesday, July 5, 2011, drastically reducing visibility and delaying flights as strong winds toppled trees and caused power outages for thousands of residents in the city. (Source: disastersurvivaltools.com)
A massive dust storm descended on the Phoenix area on Tuesday, July 5, 2011, drastically reducing visibility and delaying flights as strong winds toppled trees and caused power outages for thousands of residents in the city. (Source: disastersurvivaltools.com)

If you are in a storm-prone area, carry a mask designed to filter out small particulates, and bring airtight goggles to protect your eyes. It’s also wise to carry a supply of water in case you are stuck in a storm. Dust storms are usually accompanied by high temperatures, and you can quickly become dehydrated in the dry heat and high winds. Wear or carry clothing that covers your body to protect you from the sandblasting.

3. Outrun the Storm?

If you see a dust storm from some distance, you may be able to outrun it or detour around it. Some dust storms can travel at more than 75 miles per hour, but they frequently travel much slower.

Trying to outrun a storm, however, is not advisable if you have to put yourself at risk by traveling at high speeds. If the storm is catching up with you, it’s best to stop and prepare for it. Once consumed by the storm, your visibility can potentially be reduced to zero in a matter of seconds.

4. Pull Over

If you’re driving a vehicle and visibility drops to less than 300 feet, pull off the road as far as possible (exit the freeway if possible), set your parking brake, turn OFF your lights, make sure turn signals and emergency flashers are off, and take your foot off the brake pedal to ensure the tail lights are not illuminated.

If your exterior lights are on, other drivers will use the taillights of the person in front of them as a guide to help navigate the road ahead of them. If you are pulled off the road and are sitting there with your lights on, unbelievably, someone might think they can follow you and run right off the road or even collide with you! Turning your headlights off while stationed off the road, will reduce the possibility of a rear-end collision.

Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway.

If you are NOT able to safely pull off the road, keep your headlights on, turn on your emergency flashers, slow down, and proceed with caution, sounding your horn periodically.

Use the highway’s centerline to guide you if you can’t see in front of you. Pull over at the nearest safe spot.

5. Take Cover and Stay Put

Dust storm over Denver, Colorado. (Source: worldgeography.com)
Dust storm over Denver, Colorado. (Source: worldgeography.com)

Do not attempt to move about in a blinding storm, as you will not be able to see potential hazards in your path.

Roll up the windows and turn off vents that bring outside air in.

DO NOT enter a dust storm. If you can avoid getting caught in a storm, do not tempt fate.

Please Note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on Surviving Dust Storms

Part 2: Pull Aside & Stay Alive

Worth Pondering…

Houses were shut tight, and cloth wedged around doors and windows, but the dust came in so thinly that it could not be seen in the air, and it settled like pollen on the chairs and tables, on the dishes.”
—John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

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Thanksgiving Travel Weather

A Pacific storm train may bring the biggest travel problems for Thanksgiving to the Northwest, while another nor’easter will put travel in jeopardy for the holiday.

A nor’easter may form over the western Atlantic by Sunday, sending rain and wind into parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast through at least the middle of the week, AccuWeather.com reports.

There is potential that the nor’easter could strengthen and move farther inland into New England at midweek. In this scenario, there is some potential for a wintry mix or snow over the mountains of northern New England.

“How close to the coast the storm tracks will determine how unsettled the weather gets in the I-95 corridor to the Appalachians,” AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Between the East and West coasts, fewer widespread weather-related travel delays are forecast.

AccuWeather’s region-by-region breakdown of how weather might impact Thanksgiving travel follows.

Northeast
There is the potential for a nor’easter to form off the Atlantic coast by early next week. It is still unclear whether the storm will shift out to sea or move northward up the Eastern Seaboard.

If the storm shifts out to sea, then there may be no impact to Thanksgiving travel. Partly to mostly sunny skies and seasonable temperatures would be expected in this scenario. At this time, AccuWeather meteorologists are leaning toward this forecast.

However, rain, low clouds and gusty winds could cause slow travel both on the ground and in the air from Washington, D.C., to Boston if the storm moves up the coast.

Southeast

2012 Thanksgiving weather forecast. (Source: accuweather.com)
2012 Thanksgiving weather forecast. (Source: accuweather.com)

With another potential nor’easter brewing off the coast by early next week, an onshore flow could deliver low clouds to eastern portions of the Carolinas to Florida on Monday and Tuesday.

The east coast of Florida may even be dealing with some showers, including Miami.

Meanwhile, the interior Southeast should remain dry through the beginning of the week.

Another storm will move from west to east across the South through midweek, spreading showers and thunderstorms across the region. The showers may target the lower Mississippi Valley on Tuesday before shifting east across the Tennessee Valley and portions of the Deep South on the biggest travel day of the year, Wednesday.

Locally torrential downpours may slow motorists traveling across portions of the I-10, I-20 and I-40 corridors on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Midwest
For the most part, there are not too many weather-related travel problems anticipated across the Midwest Thanksgiving week. Generally dry and seasonable weather is in store for the Dakotas through the Great Lakes.

However, a few showers may pass quickly through, from the Dakotas and Minnesota on Monday to the Great Lakes on Tuesday.

Rockies/Plains
Much of the Rockies and the Plains will be dominated by dry weather under the influence of high pressure. Very few weather-related travel issues are predicted.

The one exception may be a moist flow from the Gulf that could trigger a few showers across Texas and the southern Plains.

West
The Northwest is likely to turn out to be the stormiest part of the nation for Thanksgiving travel. Significant travel problems could result low-elevation rain, mountain snow, and wind.

Seattle to Portland are forecast to be soaked by heavy rain through the first half of next week. High winds will drive the rain sideways at times, possibly making it hard for motorists to see while driving along the I-5 corridor.

Snow levels will drop as low as major mountain passes, such as Snoqualmie along I-90 in Washington, by Tuesday and Wednesday. Motorists traveling for Thanksgiving can run into slippery and hazardous travel.

At times, the rain will reach southward into northern California. Wet weather is most likely to disrupt travel in San Francisco on Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday, there is potential that drying will occur in San Francisco.

Farther south, dry and mild weather is in store for Southern California and the interior Southwest.

Details

AccuWeather

AccuWeather, established in 1962, is the World’s Weather Authority.

AccuWeather provides local forecasts for everywhere in the United States and over two million locations worldwide.

Headquarters for AccuWeather is State College, Pennsylvania, home to the greatest number of forecast meteorologists in one location anywhere in the world.

Website: accuweather.com

Worth Pondering…

Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.
—Mark Twain

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When Things Go Wrong

Dr. Aram Attarian, professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at North Carolina State University, has spent 35 years collecting accident reports, first-person accounts, and newspaper articles about things gone wrong in outdoor and adventure programs.

Attarian combined more than 50 scenarios involving lightning strikes, wildlife encounters, and lost students, in Risk Management in Outdoor and Adventure Programs, a book for use in outdoor leadership and adventure education classes, Medical Xpress reports.

His observations can also help RVers who enjoy hiking, camping, climbing, rafting, and other outdoor activities.

His first recommendation: “Do your homework up front.” This starts with researching the location, checking the long-term weather forecast, and selecting the right equipment for the trip. Following are tips to keep you out of a future edition of Attarian’s book, which is divided into four sections for each major contributing risk factor:

  • Program staff and participants
  • Environmental conditions
  • Equipment
  • Transportation

Program Staff and Participants

“Be prepared, both mentally and physically, for your trip,” Attarian says. If you’re getting ready for a new outdoor activity or a destination trip, start a routine of walking or running a few months ahead.

For two popular activities, backpacking and climbing, “it’s all legs and lungs. You need to have a good attitude as well.”

Mentors, whether experienced family members or professional guides, can help match your skill level to the activity and its risks. The most common outdoor injuries are musculoskeletal, such as sprained ankles or wrenched knees, followed by soft tissue injuries, such as abrasions, contusions and lacerations.

Make sure you carry a first aid kit and a communication device.

“Leave your itinerary with someone, with a day-by-day plan, so that if you’re late showing up, searchers will know where to start,” Attarian says.

Environmental Conditions

Weather, stream, river crossings, and interactions with wildlife are just a few of the biggest environmental concerns.

If a thunderstorm approaches, head from a high- to a low-risk environment by seeking shelter in a building or metal vehicle. If you’re caught in a storm, assume a lightning stance: Put your pack on the ground and crouch on top. Wait half an hour after the storm passes to resume activity. You should also be aware of wildlife in the area. Before your trip, find out if there’s a history of bears in the area and pay attention to park authorities and warning signs.

“If you’re going to an area where encounters between humans and bears are common, such as Glacier, Yellowstone, or Yosemite, take bear bells and pepper/bear spray with you and be bear-aware,” Attarian says.

Equipment

Technology has made outdoor adventures easier and more pleasant with lighter equipment, high-tech materials, and even solar panels to charge your cell phone.

However, communications gear can provide a false sense of security. “We all have cell phones, but they don’t work everywhere,” Attarian says.

Some leaders of large groups carry satellite phones. Another option is personal locator beacons, which work like GPS devices in an emergency. Once activated, the device sends a signal to an overhead satellite, which is passed on to authorities.

While GPS can come in handy, Attarian recommends carrying a map and compass for navigation. “You need to have a plan if your battery dies or the signal is blocked by a heavy tree canopy.”

Transportation

Despite his research on the risks of being outdoors, Attarian remains positive about its benefits. “Some would argue that travel to and from the location is the most dangerous part of any outdoor recreation experience,” he notes.

For additional information on Risk Management in Outdoor and Adventure Programs,and order details, click here.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

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Wind Flips High Profile Vehicles

Strong gusty winds caused problems for RVers, truckers, electrical crews, and even buildings in the Dakotas for the past two days (Wednesday and Thursday, October 17 and 18), has finally moved on.

South Dakota wind warning. (Source: valleynewslive.com)

According to the National Weather Service, strong northwest winds of 50 mph—gusting to 70 mph—persisted across South Dakota yesterday.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation advised motorists that extremely high winds were making travel difficult across the state, especially for high-profile vehicles such as semis, trucks, buses, and SUVs.

Motorists were advised to use extreme caution as many semis and vehicles tipped over on and along many roadways, especially in central and western South Dakota.

Gusting winds pushed trees onto several highways and blew down power lines and poles, causing temporary delays until highway maintenance crews arrived to clear the roads, according to an Associated Press report.

In the Black Hills area the Needles Highway was closed due to falling trees. Winding roads with a high number of pine-beetle infested trees were the areas of greatest concern.

South Dakota wind warning. (Source: valleynewslive.com)

KOTA reports that 77-mile-an-hour wind gusts broke off the top of a 40-foot electrical pole in Fort Pierre, and wind flipped a recreational vehicle at Fort Randall Dam.

Scattered power outages were reported across South Dakota and North Dakota. There was a power outage in the Black Hawk area around 2 a.m. Thursday but was restored around 3.

A building under construction in the New England North Dakota area collapsed. Tumbleweeds in Dickinson piled up as high as some buildings. Hess Corp. shut down some oil rig activity in the region.

“There is a low pressure system off to our east, and it’s creating a tight pressure gradient across the area. With a tighter pressure gradient, you get stronger winds,” meteorologist Katie Pojorlie of the National Weather Service office in Rapid City told the Associated Press.

As of about 3 p.m. Wednesday, the highest wind gust measured in western South Dakota blew across Union Center weather station at 72 mph, she said.

Downtown Rapid City logged a 68 mph wind gust, while Rapid City Regional Airport saw a 66 mph gust and 44 mph sustained winds, Pojorlie said.

A cold front also rolled in with the wind Tuesday night, dropping temperatures from the 60s and 70s to the 40s and 50s, Pojorlie said.

Sometime before 9 a.m. Wednesday, the wind is believed to have pushed a tree across a power line and on top of a house, Pojorlie said. The fire department responded, although no fire was started as a result of the fallen power line, she said. The fire crew waited until Black Hills Power arrived to handle it.

South Dakota wind warning. (Source: valleynewslive.com)

About 3:30 a.m., a small fire started on top of a power pole along East Philadelphia Street, and embers were falling from it, Colby said. A fire crew responded to keep the fire confined to the pole and waited for Black Hills Power to arrive to put out the fire, she said.

A fire is one of the department’s biggest concerns during a high wind event, Colby said.

“The wind will spread that fire quickly. It makes it very difficult to control,” Colby said.

Worth Pondering…
On the fourteenth day of April in 1935
There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky…
From Oklahoma City to the Arizona Line
Dakota and Nebraska to the lazy Rio Grande
It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down,
We thought it was our judgment, we thought it was our doom…
—Woody Guthrie, from his song, The Great Dust Storm

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