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High Winds Puts Drivers on High Alert Across South West

by Jana Ritter - Published: 4/09/2013

High winds are likely to be a recurring theme this week with warnings already extending throughout Arizona, Nevada and California.

Interstate

In Arizona, the state Department of Transportation has closed a 34-mile stretch of Interstate 40 near Winslow because of high winds. The shutdown came after authorities advised motorists of a storm system and associated cold front that was expected to produce high winds across much of Arizona. The road closure began early Monday, affecting traffic in both directions from the Twin Arrows exit to the edge of Winslow. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory, and says parts of northern Arizona could see gusts over 60 mph. Strong winds also are expected on Interstate 8 in southern Arizona, and on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande and between Tucson and the New Mexico line. Drivers are strongly advised against driving in dust storms caused by such winds.

The National Weather Service in Las Vegas also issued a wind warning Sunday for much of southern Nevada and southeastern California, enveloping all parts of the Tri-state.
For Bullhead City, Laughlin, Fort Mohave, Mohave Valley and Needles, the forecast calls for west winds around 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph this morning switching to the northwest and increasing to 35 mph with gusts to 55 mph after noon. Winds will remain strong through the evening before tapering to 20 to 30 mph around midnight.

A high wind warning means areas of blowing dust — and other debris — are likely and high profile vehicles such as big-rig trucks, vans and even larger SUVs could be affected.

According to the NWS, the high wind warning is in effect until 11 p.m. today with sustained winds possibly reaching 50 mph in some places with gusts in excess of 60 mph. In Southern California, high winds are forecast to take hold Monday and continue thru to Wednesday. But the wind had already kicked up on Sunday with gusts up to 97 miles per hour recorded on a mountaintop overlooking Interstate 5. The peak gust was recorded at about sunrise at Whitaker Peak, 40 miles north of the Los Angeles Civic Center.

Damaging wind gusts of 80 miles per hour were predicted to sweep over the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita on Sunday and Monday, along with small amounts of snow falling Sunday night and early Monday in the mountains north of Los Angeles. Today, wind warnings were posted on the 5 between the northern urban edge of Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley today. Also, the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway all the way to Kern County was flagged for dangerous gusts. The California Highway Patrol issued stay-away warnings all weekend to drivers of empty trucks, recreational vehicles and other objects prone to tipping over.

“Strong winds may make driving difficult at times,” according to the warning issued by the NWS. “Reduced visibility at times due to blowing dust.