Tips for Driving in Unpredictable Desert Weather

car driving in flood

The Phoenix desert has a reputation for having rather mild, if at times very hot, weather. But for those of us who live here in the desert, we know that driving around the Valley can be a bit hazardous, especially during certain times of the year. Below are a few tips on how to handle some of the more unpredictable areas of desert driving, and how you and your family can stay safe.

1) Don’t mess with dust storms. Dust may not seem like a big deal to drive in, but a 3,000-foot cloud of dust, also known as a haboob, is actually a very dangerous weather phenomenon and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Winds during a dust storm can exceed 60 mph, with visibility getting very low out on the roadways. If you find yourself out driving during a haboob, officials suggest pulling completely off the road, turning your car and lights off, and simply waiting the storm out before continuing on.

2) Always make sure your air conditioner is working. Drive for even a few minutes in the middle of the summer here in Phoenix, and you realize how important your air conditioner is. Temperatures in the middle of the summer have gotten above 115 degrees at times, so always make sure your AC is working properly and that you have plenty of water in your car.

3) Watch for “bleeding tar.” Like we said, temps in the Valley can reach ridiculously hot levels, which means that, at times, the very pavement you drive on can be affected. “Bleeding tar” happens when pavement becomes too hot and begins to liquefy. This can be dangerous to fast moving cars that can skid off the road if they hit a patch of this liquefied roadway. To avoid skidding, simply keep an eye out for wet patches on the road, and if you should drive over one simply slow down and don’t make any sudden movements with your steering wheel.

4) Don’t drive during a monsoon. “Monsoon season” is well known in the Valley. Not only for its welcome rainfalls after a dry summer, but also for its dangerous driving conditions. Rainfalls during a monsoon can be torrential, causing roadways to flood or become too slick to drive on. As with dust storms, if you find yourself out during a monsoon, simply pull over and wait it out. If the Weather Channel or local news is warning of heavy monsoons during drive-time, experts recommend just staying home until the inclement weather has passed.