Monsoons bring unpredictable storms; OHV and boaters urged to use caution
PHOENIX – Monsoon season is in full swing and the Arizona Game and Fish Department warns boating and off-highway vehicle (OHV) users that weather conditions can change quickly and could be dangerous for those who aren’t prepared.
The severity of monsoon storms vary greatly from a minor dust storm to a violent thunderstorm capable of producing hail, deadly lightning, and/or flash flooding.
“While Arizona is known for our often unbearable summer heat, it’s also known for great places to get outdoors, whether it’s on an OHV in the high country or one of our many lakes,” said Matt Eberhart, AZGFD OHV Safety Education coordinator. “However, it’s important for people to keep the day’s weather in mind. If severe weather is likely or storms are starting to pile up around you, it’s likely a good time to safely get off the water or trails and head indoors.”
In addition, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Boating and OHV Safety Education programs offer users the following tips to protect themselves and passengers during the monsoon season.
When on a boat or personal watercraft:
- While life jackets are legally required for everyone under 12 years old, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times while on the water. Storms can create large waves that could knock a passenger from the boat.
- Monitor the weather around you and use a weather radio for updates from the National Weather Service. If storms are predicted or are building, pull your boat out of the water or consider postponing your outing.
- Secure all gear above and below decks.
- Keep everyone aboard away from electrical and ungrounded components, and remain as low in the boat as possible.
- If there is lightning, disconnect all electrical equipment. Stay as clear of metal objects as possible.
- Slow down, but keep enough power to maintain headway and steering.
- Turn on your navigation lights.
- If possible, head for the nearest shore that is safe to approach. It may be best to ride it out in open water rather than try to approach the shore in heavy wind and waves.
- Boats should head the bow into the waves at a 45-degree angle. Personal watercrafts (PWCs) should head directly into the waves.
When on an OHV:
- Always wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, eye protection, long sleeves, pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.
- Carefully seek shelter indoors as storms are developing or are nearby.
- Never cross running water. While it may look shallow, it may be deep enough that it could push the vehicle downstream or you may get stuck in loose sediment.
- Drive slowly to not lose control on muddied trails.
- To avoid being struck by lightning, avoid open fields, high land, trees, poles or other tall objects and standing bodies of water.
- Be aware of and avoid flash flood zones.
For more information on boating in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. For more information on riding an OHV in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV.