found this on blairs profile …. desert living is getting dirty :P


Phoenix Dusts Off After Giant Sandstorm Whips Through

Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press

The storm was driven by 60-mile-an-hour winds that collected the sand into a rolling brown cloud late Tuesday. It ran for about 150 miles before dissipating.

By
Published: July 6, 2011

Phoenix residents awoke on Wednesday to a thick layer of dust on their cars, their streets and just about everything else outside after a giant sandstorm more than a mile high roared through the city.

The storm on Tuesday evening grounded airplanes, led to traffic tie-ups and set off a wave of coughing across the Valley of the Sun. At the height of the storm, visibility was reduced to zero.

While sandstorms, or haboobs, are not uncommon in Arizona and other desert areas, the size of this one and the sheer amount of dust it raised were highly unusual.

“The magnitude of this event was really exceptional,” said Ken Waters, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix. “People who have lived in Arizona for 30, 35 years say this is the biggest one they’ve seen.”

The storm was driven by 60-mile-an-hour winds that collected the sand into a rolling brown cloud and sent it moving across the city, briefly shrouding the lights of downtown Phoenix as it passed through.

The sandstorm ran for about 150 miles before dissipating, and at its peak might have grown to as large as 100 miles wide and more than one mile high.

“The more dust it picks up, the higher the cloud goes,” Mr. Waters said.

Its intensity, said Jeff Masters, director of meteorology for Weather Underground, was due to a strong complex of thunderstorms that developed east of Phoenix on Tuesday that picked up large amounts of dust.

Arizona’s continuing drought — some areas have had no rain for four months — only made conditions worse, Mr. Masters said. The drought in southern Arizona is the fifth-most extreme in the past 50 years.

The sandstorm closed Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for about 45 minutes starting around 8 p.m., when visibility was reduced to one-eighth of a mile, said Julie Rodriguez, an airport spokeswoman. Two flights were canceled and others were diverted to Tucson and California, she said. A plume of sand also blew into some terminal buildings.

Several thousand homes also lost power in the area after the winds blew down power lines. The winds also turned over a tractor-trailer truck on Interstate 8 near Casa Grande, but caused no serious injuries, officials said.

A version of this article appeared in print on July 7, 2011, on page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: Phoenix Dusts Off After Giant Sandstorm Whips Through.

source: ny times

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