March 19, 2019 / Modified mar 19, 2019 10:54 a.m.

Advanced Dust Storm Detection Coming for I-10 Drivers

ADOT's radar-based system rolls out later this year.

dust storm pinal county Looking west as a dust storm forms near Interstate 10 in Pinal County, July 10, 2018.
Christopher Conover/AZPM

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New dust storm detection measures are planned for people driving along a dangerous stretch of I-10 near Tucson.

Motorists traveling between mileposts 209 and 219 just north of Picacho Peak are sometimes hit with blinding walls of dust. The Arizona Department of Transportation plans to find dust storms as the storms approach the zone and warn drivers to slow down. ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann says the technology has been around for a while.

"We will have a long-range radar, very similar to what the TV stations use to look out into the desert about 5 to 10 miles and look for approaching storms," said Herrmann.

When the radar system detects a storm moving into the 10-mile stretch, it will trigger an alert for drivers on electronic message boards along the route. Closed-circuit cameras will be used to enforce the lower speed limit until the storm passes.

ADOT expects to have the radar ready within the next month, with the entire system operational by September.

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