For the fourth time since late April 2016, a dust storm has closed a 62-mile stretch (101 km) of a major freeway on both sides of the Arizona-New Mexico border.
The latest closure happened on Friday, May 6, after weather front that produced thunderstorms and strong winds whipped up dust from a land that was stripped of vegetation last year.
Reduced visibility led the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to shut down Interstate 10 between U.S. 191 in southeastern Arizona and Lordsburg, New Mexico, for the second consecutive day and fourth time in two weeks, AP reported.
According to AP, dust storms in this region triggered a three-vehicle crash involving two semitrailers about 15 miles (24 km) from the New Mexico border on April 25 and three separate accidents involving 12 vehicles three days later. No fatalities were reported in any of the crashes, but there was one serious injury.
Mike Leuthold, University of Arizona meteorologist, who travels the stretch of highway regularly said he feared this will become an issue after noticing dust blowing across the road this winter near land that was stripped of vegetation last year. The 200 acres plot was, reportedly, bladed in preparation for planting groves of pecan trees.
ADOT personnel stationed at the scene will close the highway in the interest of safety when conditions warrant and detour traffic on US 191 and US 70 through Safford. Those planning to travel this route should budget extra time in case of delays and be aware of the potential for blowing dust to appear suddenly, ADOT officials said in a news release.
Featured image: Dust storm on I-10. Credit: Arizona Department of Transportation
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