Severe Weather Toolkit

1.9 Dust Storms

Dust storms occur occasionally in parts of Texas, especially in West Texas and the Panhandle. Dust storms typically arrive suddenly with an advancing wall of dust and debris which may be miles long and several thousand feet high. It is important in areas where dust storms are considered a threat to identify protective actions for schools. Driving is one of the biggest concerns in the midst of a dust storm, because visibility reduction can easily cause accidents. School bus drivers should be trained on how to identify safe locations to pull carefully off the roadway.

Dust Storm Roadway Safety Tips

  • Pull off the roadway as far as possible.
  • TURN OFF LIGHTS. Other vehicles may follow the lights of a preceding vehicle thinking it is moving and collide with a parked vehicle.
  • If unable to get off the roadway, reduce speed and use warning lights and headlights to help avoid collisions.
  • Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway.

Students and staff susceptible to asthma or breathing difficulties can be significantly affected by large amounts of dust in the air and should take extra precautions and seek shelter. Schools should practice "shelter in place" drills similar to a hazardous materials spill by tak0ing protective actions to prevent dust from infiltrating the school and/or classrooms. Closing windows, shutting down the Heating, Ventilating and Air conditioning (HVAC) systems and sealing of outside windows can help preserve the quality of the air inside the building until it is safe to resume activities.

Dust storms typically do not last very long and are usually caused as a result of strong thunderstorm winds. Your local news and weather stations as well as the NWS Forecast Office will issue a warning if a dust storm is occurring in your area.

Dust Storm Resources

Dust Watch and Warning Protective Actions