Dust storm attacking PhoenixPhoenix, Arizona residents are probably really grateful to see the sun this morning after a massive dust storm barrelled through the town Tuesday night like something straight out of a science-fiction movie. The huge dust cloud knocked out power to 8,000 people, grounded flights, and scared the bejesus out of naive east coasters like myself who've never seen such a terrifying force of nature. Maybe this kind of weather is old news for all you west of the Mississippi, but gigantic dust storms, or haboobs, as you call them, seem super scary.
The dust cloud that swallowed Phoenix was about 5,000 feet high when it absorbed the city, and the videos, the videos, of the event look like clips from the latest Stephen King movie adaptation. Get some popcorn and prepare to be freaked.
Local news station KSAZ-TV reported that many residents who've lived in the area for a long time said that this dust storm was the worst they'd seen. I'm glad to hear this sort of thing doesn't happen that often, but I hope the magnitude of this storm isn't foreshadowing of what's to come. ThinkProgress.com theorizes that 2010 was the year with the most extreme weather since 1816. I'm not one to say if this dust storm is related to human-caused climate change or not, but one thing is for sure: If a ginormous dark cloud of dirt started roaring through my town, I'd be more than a little worried.
I mean, I've seen The Mist and Super 8 so I know a thing or two about small towns and clouds -- it's that combination that makes people disappear.
The National Weather Service recorded winds up to 60 mph during Tuesday night's storm, and the FAA shut down incoming and outbound flights for just over an hour since the cloud made visibility nearly zilch.
The scariest thing we had in Virginia growing up were loud thunderstorms and cicadas. More power to you westerners: You're a tough breed!
Photo via Mike Olbinski
WATCH time-lapse video of the dust storm from Mike Olbinski:
WATCH video of the storm from Phoenix station ABC 15: