[The following is a press release submitted by Caltrans:]

Monsoon season is on the horizon for the deserts and mountains of Southern California, according to Caltrans. A monsoon is a seasonal prevailing wind blowing from the southwest between May and September bringing rain. These storms typically drench these regions causing the creeks and washes to overflow their banks with water, debris and mud, which ultimately sheet across state highways.

District 8 Maintenance is preparing for these storms by removing loose debris from slopes, making roadway repairs and grooming highway shoulders in anticipation of the summer storms. Caltrans also hires extra maintenance staff to work the 24/7 schedules that go into effect during rain events.

The following tips may aid you in your travels through monsoon territory:

• First, check the weather and traffic conditions before you leave. View real-time traffic and road conditions on Caltrans QuickMap (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov).

• Always make sure your car is in good running condition before you drive long distances. Check your tires, brakes, fluids and wiper blades, and always have a full tank of gas in case you encounter traffic delays and a gas station is inaccessible.

• Bring plenty of water and snacks, required medications, a charged cell phone with car charger, blankets and sturdy shoes in the event you need them during an emergency.

• Be especially cautious at night. Flood dangers are much more difficult to see in the dark.

• Pay attention and follow any directions given by road signs or the overhead Changeable Message Signs.

• Follow all directions given to you by road work personnel, law enforcement or emergency responders. Call 911 in the event of an emergency.

• Never drive past “Road Closed” signs or attempt to cross flooded roadways.

• Be alert for Caltrans crews that are cleaning highways after a monsoon event and give the crews plenty of room. Slow down, be prepared and turn around, don’t drown.