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Strong activity triggers dust storms across Valley

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation issued a statement warning of potential travel hazards Thursday evening.

The National Weather Service in Tucson has reported that a storm moving through the city has created blowing dust that has reduced visibility to less than a mile in some locations. Other parts of south and central Arizona, particularly areas along I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix, could also be affected by blowing dust throughout Thursday evening.

Visibility was as low as one-quarter of a mile in some areas with winds over 45 miles an hour and blowing dust has already been reported near the cities of Maricopa and Picacho.

Dust Storm Warnings were issued for Pinal and Maricopa counties from 6:21 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

Maricopa County and Pima County also had additional Flood Advisory Warnings issued from 9:12 p.m. – 11:15 p.m. and 9:32 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. respectively.

What began as two separate storms combined into one before reaching the Tempe-Mesa-Chandler areas at approximately 7:30 p.m.

The storm briefly caused all flights to be grounded at Sky Harbor Airport but several have since resumed taking off and landing.

The Phoenix-metro area’s Dust Storm Warning was cancelled by 9:15 p.m., but spokesperson with SRP told KTAR that 14,000 customers around the Valley reported outages related to the storm. Additionally, APS had 11,000 customers who reported similar outages.

The storm also knocked down several trees around the Ahwatukee area and caused the 39th annual Red, White and Boom Fireworks show to be cancelled at the Ahwatukee Country Club.

The areas most prone for blowing dust and low visibility are between Phoenix and Tucson and include Interstate 10, Interstate 8 and State Route 347.

If caught in a dust storm, travelers are advised to slow down and pull off the highway as soon as possible, preferably completely off an exit. Do not stop in a travel or emergency lane, do not use any lights or flashers and stay buckled in the car with the emergency brake engaged.