DPS hands full as blowing dust sparks crashes on I-10 - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

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DPS hands full as blowing dust sparks crashes on I-10 near Phoenix

Posted: Updated:
I-10 east near Casa Grande (Source: CBS 5 News) I-10 east near Casa Grande (Source: CBS 5 News)
Multiple crashes as blowing dust whips up south of Phoenix (Source: CBS 5 News) Multiple crashes as blowing dust whips up south of Phoenix (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Multiple crashes blocked eastbound lanes of Interstate 10 near Casa Grande Wednesday afternoon, the Arizona Department of Transportation said.

Traffic got by on the shoulder but was backed up for miles.

The crashes piled up as a dust storm warning was posted for northwest and north central Pinal County until 7 p.m. 

With all the wicked weather, DPS officers throughout the county had their hands full. CBS 5 News rode along with Capt. Brian Preston as he managed multiple crashes throughout the Casa Grande area.

"Fortunately, so far everything has been minor injuries. That's just by chance," he said.

Preston said the low-level winds whip up dust that can cross highways and create blinding conditions. Unlike flooded roads, most drivers simply continue through, despite the dangers.

"The key to making (dusty weather driving) safer is to look at a dust event the same we do as a flood. When you look down the road and see water crossing the road, you don't drive into it," said Preston.

Some of the areas affected include Casa Grande, Florence and areas along State Route 347. Strong southwesterly winds will blow between 25 and 35 mph with isolated areas hitting 45 mph.

A cold front approaching Arizona is blowing cooler temperatures, dust and potentially dangerous driving conditions into the Valley and the rest of the state on Wednesday.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a high-pollution advisory for the Phoenix metropolitan area Wednesday because of predicted strong winds.

In addition, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department has issued a mandatory no-burn restriction throughout the day.

Winds will increase Wednesday and kick up dust, especially in the evening. Wind gusts could get up to 50 mph, causing blowing dust and possibly lower visibilities on roadways. 

Although the entire Valley could be dealing with blowing dust, it is most likely in dust-prone areas along Interstates 8 and 10 in Pinal County.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said travelers should be vigilant on the state's highways.

Motorists could see wind gusts as high as 50 mph and blowing dust along Interstate 8 between Yuma and Casa Grande, on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson, State Route 347 near Maricopa, and Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Holbrook.

Winds and blowing dust could produce limited or zero visibility, according to ADOT.

Wind advisories have been issued for Wednesday in most of Arizona's counties. [Click here to see all of the weather alerts]

Winds will start to die down Wednesday evening and will stay much calmer on Thursday.

This cold front will bring rain, but most of the precipitation will remain in northern Arizona and in the higher terrain closer to the Valley.

The best chance of getting any rain out of this system in the Valley will be very early Thursday morning. There is an outside chance of showers Thursday afternoon. Rain totals, if any, will be light.

The most noticeable change will be the temperatures. Highs will only warm up into the mid-70s on Thursday. Friday and Saturday morning will start out cool, with highs in the low to mid-50s. 

Clouds will hang around on Thursday, but there will be clearing skies Friday and plenty of sunshine over the weekend. 

Highs will warm back up into the mid-80s by this weekend.

Stay with cbs5az.com/weather and CBS 5 meteorologists for your pinpoint forecast.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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