Huge clouds of dust engulfed the Phoenix Metropolitan Area this week – a consequence of monsoon season’s arrival without the rain that drought-plagued Arizona usually expects from the storms. A drone flown in one Phoenix suburb filmed video of the eerie gray mass as winds blew the dust clouds over the city.
Video of advancing dust clouds shot by drone pilot
The drone captured its video as the dust clouds approached on Tuesday evening, just before they covered the Phoenix area in a thick shroud of gritty gloom. The dark, sinister veil in many ways resembled the smoke from raging wildfires that has choked the skies in other western US states. About the same time as the drone shot its footage, the National Weather Service issued an advisory for a “sudden drop in visibility to 1/4 mile or less resulting (from) widespread or localized blowing dust.”
It turned out to be somewhat understated.
Weather conditions undermining climate change denials
Blowing dust is common to Arizona, particularly during the monsoon season that runs from mid-June to the end of September. But the so-called haboobs have been aggregated this year by the extended drought wracking Arizona, which is also depriving the state of rainfall monsoons usually bring with them. That aridity not only makes larger quantities of super-dry dirt easier to suck up by gusting winds, but also eliminates hopes of a cloudburst knocking a lot of that airborne grit back down to earth.
As Tuesday’s dust clouds marched into Phoenix and wrapped themselves around the city, Arizona’s Department of Transportation issued a warning to drivers to stay off roads and the significantly reduced visibility they’d find there. The state’s emergency network reminded residents who didn’t heed that advice and found themselves caught in dust clouds as a result to immediately pull off the road and turn off all their lights. Officials also warned of possible water, power, and gas cuts the dust storms can provoke.
But the drought-worsened dust storms did carry one, albeit bitterly ironic upside: the lack of habitual downpours reducing the monsoon season threat of flash floods to virtually zero.
Photo: Artin Bakhan
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