Monsoon season in Arizona has been fairly tame so far this year, but there is still some time left for the sky to rain down on us. At VIP European Auto Interiors, we want you to be ready for if/when it does.
The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for any unforeseen weather changes is subscribe to media weather alerts and watch for upcoming storms. Stay off the roads if you know a storm is coming.
The Arizona Department of Transportation says monsoons can bring higher humidity, which can lead to thunderstorms, heavy rain, lightning, hail, high winds, flash flooding, dust storms and extreme heat.
Tips for Driving in a Monsoon
ADOT urges drivers to do all of the following:
- Have extra supplies, including a drinking water and an emergency kit in case you experience an extended highway closure
- Charge your phone fully before leaving the house
- If you see a dust storm or heavy rain ahead, pull off the road and get to a safe area, especially if you have little to no experience with driving in such conditions
- When faced with low- or zero-visibility conditions, pull your vehicle off the road as far to the right as possible.
- Turn off your lights, set the parking brake, and take your foot off the brake pedal so no drivers try to follow you.
- Do not cross flooded roadways
- Do not ignore “Road Closed” signs
- If traffic lights are out, treat intersections as a four-way stop
- Stay alert in areas prone to falling rocks
- Inspect your windshield wipers before you drive
- Ensure your headlights work
Arizona is built to withstand desert conditions, which means it is not well suited for heavy rainfall. When a monsoon hits, many roads become flooded; they can be submerged completely or deep puddles or running currents can form on the side of them.
Driving through deep puddles or flooded roads is dangerous. If you drive across a puddle, it can cause your tires to skim across the top of the water. This can cause you to lose control of your car. Avoid water on the road at all times. If you feel your car slipping or if you’re hydroplaning, do not slam on your brakes. Instead, take your foot off the gas and slowly brake.
When you’re driving in the rain, it is imperative that you reduce your speed and keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This not only increases your safety if you begin to slip, but allows you to respond if the driver in front of you begins to lose control of their vehicle too. If you are sliding or drifting, gently turn your steering wheel in the direction of your slide.
How to Increase Visibility in a Monsoon
If you have to drive during a Monsoon or find yourself caught in one, there are steps you can take to increase your visibility and safety.
The biggest thing is making sure your windshield wipers are in excellent condition and can wipe away any wetness or debris with ease. Arizona summers can wreak havoc on your wiper blades, so ensure they are in great shape by replacing them as needed. Gently run your hand down the wipers. If you feel any cracks or melted areas, it may be time to replace them. You can also test them by dumping wanted on your car or using them after a car wash to see how well they displace the water.
Make sure you can defog your windows too. During rainstorms, your windshield fogs up pretty quickly due to the change in temperature. You can avoid it by turning on the front and rear defrosters to maximize visibility.
Turn on your lights when it’s raining! It gets hard to see when it rains, from the blurry vision on the windshield, to the mist and fog and darker atmosphere. Lights are a must to increase visibility and safety — so you can see better and so other drivers can see you!
Avoid distractions at all times. Put down your phone, coffee, or food and keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Driving in the rain can quickly create hazardous conditions that you will need to react to at a moment’s notice. Give yourself plenty of time by being alert.
Drive directly behind the vehicles in front of you. When driving, you’ll notice the car in front of you is kicking up moisture from the road. This moisture comes up in a thick mist, which is hard to see through. Give yourself plenty of space between you and the car in front of you to help keep your windshield and vision clear.
Dust Storms Often Follow Monsoons
Remember that when the monsoon clears, you may not be out of the woods yet. In Arizona, it is common for a dust storm to roll in after the rain stops. In a dust storm, visibility drops significantly and wind gusts can easily reach 60mph or more.
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. There is very little warning to them, so be vigilant. Dust storms usually last only a few minutes.
So remember, if you’re in a monsoon, be sure to check the radio for any signs of a dust storm too.
If you want more tips for helping you and your car survive Arizona, check out our past blogs on topics like car maintenance in the desert, water damage, and more.