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What to do when driving through gusty winds that create dangerously low visibility

The Coachella Valley is experiencing yet another major wind event, which prompted the closure of Gene Autry Trail at the wash on Sunday in Palm Springs. That road and Indian Canyon Drive are infamous for sand whipping through the area, creating extremely poor visibility for drivers. At around 3:30 p.m. workers also shut down Indian Canyon Drive.

Palm trees could be seen swaying, while some parked cars on Vista Chino and Date Palm Drive had their tires nearly buried in the sand.

"It was horrible, I got stuck a little while ago," said Desert Hot Springs resident, Bridget Becerra.

Becerra stopped to gas up.

"I literally had to dig the sand out of the wheels," Becerra said.

Becerra is no stranger to powerful wind gusts living in Desert Hot Springs.

"The wind has been crazy gust storms out of nowhere, and then it’s beautiful and hot, and it’s windy the next day; it’s crazy weather, she said.

Another driver we spoke to was also getting gas at the intersection.

"I’ve noticed this year they’ve been a lot worse. This seems to be a much harder wind storms we’ve been getting," said Palm Springs resident, Glen Dickard.

Dickard described the short drive like a bunch of mini earthquakes causing the car to bounce around.

"Your number one focus as the driver is to get yourself and your passengers to the destination safely as well as protect everyone else out there," AAA spokesman, Doug Shupe said.

Shupe advised people to stay at home when wind events like Sunday's persist. If people have to drive, he said drivers have to be vigilant, keep both hands on the wheel and be attentive for any debris in the road.

"You also want to make sure that when you’re passing wind-blocking structures- what I’m talking about are bridge overpasses, other buildings that block the wind and then you suddenly drive past them. If you’re not expecting it, that wind can really come out of what seemingly is nowhere, Shupe said.

He also said maintaining vehicle maintenance is key. Make sure to have a clean windshield, have new, clean windshield wipers, and ensure your headlights and taillights are fully operating in case you are driving through an area with poor visibility.

"Make sure that you’re buckled up, and do not be distracted. That is so important because you have to absolutely be focused every single second while you’re out there on the road. Pretty much everyday day of the year, but especially on windy days like today. So put away those smart phones, put away the food, wait to eat when you get to your destination. Avoid talking to passengers while you’re driving, Shupe said.

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019 after living in San Francisco for 6 years. Learn more about Shelby here.


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