Watch for monsoon's slick roads, dust - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

Watch for monsoon's slick roads, dust

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Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Monsoon rains will bring relief from torrid temperatures, but they will also bring some of the most hazardous driving conditions of the year, according to a release from Northwest Fire / Rescue.

During hot weather, oil from vehicle engines and tires, along with oils from the asphalt itself, rises to the surface and co-mingles on roadways. When water hits these collected oils, roads become very slick, especially in the first few minutes of a shower, before the mixture of oils and water has the chance to run off the pavement.

Drivers should be aware of conditions and slow down, the release said. Skidding is likely if you must brake suddenly, so it's advisable to allow extra stopping distance in front of you.

Summer rains frequently flood dry washes, and can make usual routes impassable. The best advice is to never drive across any running water, even an amount that looks shallow. Fast-moving water in Tucson's flooded washes has been found to carry tree branches, utility poles, even refrigerators.

Northwest Fire/Rescue advises drivers to plan ahead for alternate routes that will avoid flooded roadways. Emergency personnel may have barricades at some, but not all, dangerous areas. Motorists who move or attempt to drive around barriers to drive through running washes put themselves and their passengers in danger. Drivers may be cited, as well as billed by the emergency service agencies called to rescue them.

Dust storms also come up suddenly in the summer and can restrict visibility to a few feet. Severe dust storms can appear as solid, moving walls of dust, reducing visibility suddenly and totally. Driving in such a storm is extremely dangerous.

In high winds, tumbleweeds roll across the countryside. Do not take evasive action to avoid them; they are light masses of small, brittle stems and are not hazardous to automobiles.

For additional safety information, contact Northwest Fire/Rescue Prevention Office at 887-1010.

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