The Main Stream

Apr 8, 2013 7:41 PM by Associated Press

Powerful winds cause problems statewide

PHOENIX (AP) - Gusty winds produced by a cold front swept through Arizona on Monday, enveloping Phoenix in a dusty haze and closing a stretch of Interstate 40 in the northern part of the state for several hours.

A low-pressure system moving across California and Nevada caused havoc in many parts of Arizona before the windy conditions were expected to head into New Mexico by Tuesday.

A dust storm in southern Arizona was being blamed for an accident on I-10 near Picacho Peak involving two semi-trucks that jackknifed and two passenger vehicles. Four people were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, state Department of Public Safety officials said.

A 34-mile stretch of Interstate 40 east of Flagstaff was closed in both directions between Twin Arrows and Winslow for about three hours because of strong winds and limited visibility, according to the state Department of Transportation. The stretch of highway was reopened by 4 p.m.

The National Weather Service reported winds of 40 mph in Flagstaff, with gusts up to 59 mph, while snow fell on parts of Flagstaff, Kingman and the Grand Canyon.

Strong winds also were reported on I-8 in southern Arizona, and on I-10 between Phoenix and Casa Grande and between Tucson and the New Mexico line.

Blowing dust caused by wind gusts of up to 45 mph in the Phoenix metropolitan area pushed airborne particulate levels above federal standards Monday, triggering health watches.

The state Department of Environmental Quality issued a high pollution advisory for Maricopa County through Tuesday.

Health officials said airborne dust can aggravate heart and lung disease symptoms, especially in older patients, children and people with asthma.

High winds also were fanning a fire that was burning a large pile of wood chips near Litchfield Park west of Phoenix.

More than 30 units from multiple fire departments were trying to contain the flames. There was no immediate word on what started the fire or when it might be extinguished.

Cooler conditions were expected to linger Tuesday in the Phoenix area before temperatures get back into the 80s by Wednesday and the low 90s by the weekend.


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