(AZ Central) -- Three people died in collisions involving multiple semi-tractor trailers on Interstate 10 north of Picacho Peak Tuesday afternoon, officials said.
High wind speeds and low visibility from a dust storm contributed to the collisions, said Raul Garcia, a spokesman with the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
All westbound lanes and two eastbound lanes of the highway were closed Tuesday afternoon. Several people were also seriously injured in multiple collisions, officials said.
The highway was shut down at about 12:30 p.m., and it was not immediately known how the collisions occurred or how long the road would be closed.
Traffic was backed up 10 to 15 miles westbound on the highway and 5 to 6 miles eastbound.
Though no official alternative westbound route has been established, motorists can take Arizona 77 out of Tucson to Arizona 79 going toward Florence. From Florence, drivers can take Arizona 287 until it merges with Arizona 87 near Coolidge, which goes back to the Valley, according to an Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman.
At least six semi-tractor trailers were involved in the collision. Multiple passenger vehicles were wedged between the trucks and were severely damaged. The entire cab of one truck was crushed and at least one passenger vehicle appeared to be lodged under a truck.
Wind speeds in the area were blowing southwest at 20-30 mph at about 1:30, said Marvin Percha, a spokesman for the National Weather Service.
A short-term forecast was issued for blowing dust before the crash and a dust storm warning was issued at 12:49, which was shortly after the collision occurred. Percha said.
"They just happened to be in a channel where dust picked up easily," he said.
The Department of Transportation cautioned motorists to stay alert during wind storms, which can suddenly drop visibility to zero.
Motorists are encouraged to slow down, pull off the roadway and turn off all vehicle lights in the event of a dust storm.