An elderly man is dead and at least 15 other people injured after dust storms triggered three major multi-vehicle accidents on Arizona's Interstate 10 on Tuesday.
Two of the three crashes occurred shortly after noon (MST, 3 p.m. EDT) near Picacho, located in between Tucson and Phoenix.
A total of 16 vehicles were involved in these pileups, which claimed the life of a 70-year-old man.
The Associated Press reports that the man died almost instantly when the vehicle his wife was driving slammed into and got lodged underneath a semi-truck.
The man's wife was taken to the hospital after it took rescuers 45 minutes to extract her from the damaged vehicle.
Authorities were not able to transport the woman and other injured motorists to hospitals by helicopter as blowing dust continued to reduce visibility.
Nearly two hours later, eight vehicles were involved in another pileup on Interstate 10 just north of Casa Grande. Two people sustained serious, but non-life-threatening injuries in this collision.
The blowing dust that triggered the accidents was kicked up by the gusty winds that howled as a potent storm system dropped into Arizona.
Radar images from the time of the first two crashes also indicate that a developing shower was in the vicinity, which could have led to an additional brief burst of wind.
Wind gusts exceeded 30 mph several times on Tuesday afternoon in Casa Grande, Tucson and Phoenix. Tucson reported a peak gust of 43 mph at 12:22 p.m. MST.
The highest wind gusts recorded at Phoenix and Casa Grande, 41 mph and 38 mph respectively, occurred in the hours following the three crashes.
Less wind will whip across southeastern Arizona on Wednesday. However, strong winds will quickly reduce Thursday and renew the blowing dust danger.
Heavy rain returning to the northern Plains will generate a renewed flood threat for the Red River.
The severe weather threat is winding down for the night after more than 20 reports of tornadoes through Sunday night.
Several tornadoes touched down from Oklahoma to Iowa, including near Wichita, Kan., and Oklahoma City, on Sunday.
Severe storms may erupt from Texas to Wisconsin on Monday as the storm system that spawned several tornadoes across the Plains on Saturday and Sunday shifts slowly to the east.
A slow-moving storm resulted in a week of below-normal temperatures that will likely continue into the week.
Keep up to date on the severe thunderstorm outbreak unfolding across the Plains by tracking local radars.
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