Just as many of us Floridians would probably be useless driving in a snow storm, there’s a lot of crazy weather people might not be ready for in the summer. It’s always important to learn about the environments you’ll be driving in and how to handle conditions you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re planning on traveling through the southwest this summer, here are some weather situations you need to be prepared for across Arizona, New Mexico, northwest Texas, and Mexico.

What to Expect


If you get caught in a monsoon, you’ll soon learn it’s not like a rainstorm anywhere else. Rather than a steady stream, you’ll suddenly see a burst of heavy rain intercepted with periods of no rain. This can result in flooded roads and flash floods.

Dust Storm (aka Haboob)

Haboobs look like they’re straight out of Lawrence of Arabia: with little to no warning, a tidal wave of dust and dirt will emerge. While dust storms can be common in the desert, it is rarer to face storms like the one Phoenix saw in July 2011, which was 5,000 feet high and 70 miles wide, with winds throwing dirt and rocks at 50 miles per hour. Check out this unbelievable video of the storm!

What to Do

  • • Before your trip, check and change your windshield wipers
  • • If driving in a storm, turn your headlights on and slow down
  • • If visibility is obstructed, pull off to the road as far to the right as possible, turn off your car and headlights, set the parking brake, and keep your foot off the brake pedal
  • • If a sign says “Do Not Cross When Flooded,” and you see water, find another way
  • • Following the storm, drive with caution in case there is debris in the road

If you’re not sure what’s happening or what to do, call 5-1-1 from any state to hear about current road and weather conditions from the Department of Transportation.

As with any sort of weather, there are good odds that you won’t have to deal with some of the meaner desert storms. But, now that you’re prepared, you can travel without worry!