Predicting dust storms could help save lives

Predicting dust storms could help save lives

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - One of the worst places in the state for dust storms is on Interstate 10 between Tucson and Casa Grande.

We have seen countless crashes near Picacho Peak, some of them deadly. For years people across the state have looked into how to prevent these crashes from happening to save lives.

“It’s more of just a piece of the puzzle that could maybe help,” Ruby Obrien-Metzger, a student researcher at the University of Arizona said.

Researchers at the University of Arizona hope a portable wind tunnel they created can help piece together when dust storms will pick up during the Monsoon.

UA researchers portable wind tunnel (Source: KOLD News 13)
UA researchers portable wind tunnel (Source: KOLD News 13) (Source: KOLD News 13 Staff)

The portable wind tunnel allows them to make little dust storms so they can understand what conditions dust storms are created.

Winds can reach up to 70 miles per hour, so they’re trying to figure out what wind speed and what kind of soil make the perfect recipe for a dust storm.

“Visibility can go from complete visibility to zero visibility within minutes from these dust storms so knowing what wind speeds create dust is a really good way to help predict these dust storms and make people a little safer,” said Obrien-Metzger.

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