By Miriam Aliberti —
You’re driving along and suddenly you notice the sun disappear. You check the sky and see heavy dark clouds. There is a streak of lightning and the crack of thunder. A few minutes later you can’t see through the windshield. Trees are nearly sideways in the wind. It’s monsoon season in Arizona which means storms can be unpredictable and you may find yourself unexpectedly in a major thunderstorm with crazy amounts of rain, flash flooding, lightening and high winds. It can be scary, but knowing what to do can help keep you safe.
Get Off the Road
If you’re on the road and you see a storm coming, try to pull off at the next exit and wait it out. If you find yourself caught driving in heavy rain, wind, or a dust storm with low visibility, it’s best to pull over right away.
- Get as far to the right off the road as possible.
- Turn off your lights.
- Set your parking brake and take your foot off the brake pedal. This way driver’s coming up behind will not believeyou are a car they can follow and slam into the back of your vehicle.
- Stay in your car.
Driving in Heavy Rain
Sometimes it’s not quite bad enough to pull off the road but the rain is still heavy.
- Turn on your headlights.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. It takes more time to slow your car in the rain. It can also be slippery and it’s important to leave enough distance so you can brake gently and avoid a slide.
- If you feel your car hydroplaning: Slowly take your foot off the gas. Do not hit the brakes. Turn your steering wheel gently in the direction your car is sliding. Stay far back from large vehicles such as trucks or buses because they will cause water to spray up from the road onto your vehicle creating visibility problems.
- Try to find the lane with the least amount of water accumulation and stay in it.
Flash flooding is not unusual during Arizona monsoons.The ground cannot absorb water fast enough to keep up. So much rain in such a short time can build up quickly and it doesn’t take much to cause your car to move in a direction you didn’t intend for it to go. This is called hydroplaning and it can get you into trouble. Sometimes it looks like the water will be easy to drive through but it can be misleading and dangerous.
- Don’t try to drive through washes or fast moving water.
- Don’t ignore signs that say “Road Closed.”
Monsoons in Arizona usually appear around the months of July through September. There are some things you can do in advance to prevent problems when the storms hit.
- Check your windshield wipers to make sure they are working properly and don’t need to be changed. It’s easy to get caught off guard when you need them and they don’t work.
- Make sure your tires are in good condition and have the correct amount of pressure.
- Check your headlights, tail lights, and brake lights to make sure they are working properly.