Freeway sandstorms are not to be confused with dust storms or with their seasonal Arizona relatives, “haboobs”. Both may blot out the view ahead, typically bringing traffic to a dead stop and both might be gone along with by fierce winds.
Local tow services mobilized in San Diego’s East County last week during somewhat of a freak storm that caused mass havoc through out San Diego County. In the city heavy rains, high winds and flash flooding turned the roads and freeways into a dangerous place to be. In Mission Valley a tree fell across the 163 freeway landing on top of 4 cars causing afternoon traffic to come to a standstill. In El Cajon there were reports of wind funnels and even some calling it a mild tornado. Several vehicle through out San Diego were stranded, stuck, disabled and in bad need of a emergency towing services in San Diego. The madness didn’t stop there in the South Bay a Chula Vista Towing Company responded to the desperate cry of a young mother who apparently locked her child in the car. The towing company dispatched emergency auto locksmith services to unlock the sleeping child, the whole event didn’t disturb or wake the child who was fine. Needless to say San Diego Fire and other local emergency services stayed busy that day and night.
That, nevertheless, is where the similarity ends. Sandstorms are sometimes powered by 60 to 100 mph winds. In a matter of minutes, small grains of abrasive sand can sandblast a vehicle’s costly surface right down to the bare metal or raw plastic.
The sand could also trigger engine damage – typically unsuspected by motorists who have actually successfully driven with the sandblast. Sand can infiltrate the engine compartment and the interior of the vehicle. Oil and air filters can end up being loaded with the sand and in the worst storms so can the fuel tank and gas. Automobile lubricants: engine oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid can be coated with sand and mess up the engine, automatic transmission and power steering system.
Sandstorms usually strike where highway sand dunes as contrasted to the firmer desert soil are exposed to the wind. As wind velocity boosts, the wind skims the tops of the dunes, sandblasting everything in it’s path.
Some western states post signs on the desert roadways and highways, like “Blowing Sand, Reduce Speed”, to alert drivers of regular sandstorm locations. In sandblast corridors, there might be no proof of wind or perhaps sand. But don’t be deceived. Sandblasts do constantly strike true to published cautions.
If captured in a sandstorm you have actually got to make a quick idea: either drive with it or look for immediate shelter.
Drivers familiar with the nature of sandstorms understand some sandblast corridors are just a couple of hundred yards broad, while others stretch for miles. In a narrowly restricted sandblast area, drivers can reduce speed and drive with the storm, often without damage to their automobiles’ paint task or engine parts.
Some sandstorms surge only for a couple of minutes then ease off. Others continue for hours, even days. For motorists not familiar with a location, judging the various kinds of sandstorms is hard, if not impossible. Listening to regional storm reports can assist unless you have currently driven into a sandstorm.