Dust cloud covers Phoenix for third time this summer
A huge wall of dust moves over the Phoenix area on Thursday.
August 19th, 2011
10:37 AM ET

Dust cloud covers Phoenix for third time this summer

A massive dust storm rolled through Phoenix on Thursday, the third such storm to blanket its metropolitan area this summer.

The cloud of dust was 50 to 60 miles wide and 3,000 to 4,000 feet high, National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Leins in Phoenix said.

The dust reduced visibility to under a quarter-mile, was likely to blame for several traffic accidents and closed Sky Harbor International Airport for 40 minutes, according to a report in The Arizona Republic. More than 5,000 people lost electrical power at some point, and a few dozen structures and vehicles were damaged, the paper said.

Leins said the massive dust cloud, also known by the Arabic term haboob, was driven by 40-mph to 50-mph winds spawned by severe thunderstorms that form to the southeast of the Valley of the Sun, where Phoenix sits.

The storms push out winds that travel unimpeded through the desert, picking up dust, dirt and debris and carrying it over the valley, Leins said. Damage in these situations is caused by thunderstorms rather than the dust cloud, he said.

Thursday's dust cloud was the third to rip through the Valley of the Sun this year. Haboobs also enveloped Phoenix on July 5 and 18.

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Filed under: Arizona • Weather
soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. michaelfury


    August 19, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Iftar of Mohammed

      Get a life bible thumper, Jesus is a fairy tale.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      If Jesus is a fairy tale, then Mohammed is a just a fairy.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Confused

      It is the hand of God reaching down for Sarah Palin who now lives in Scottsdale AZ.

      August 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tony

    You mean to say, a 50-mile wide alien spacecraft was over the city and used a dust cloud to hide itself. Right? BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED! Fortunately, my tinfoil hat is keeping me safe.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      No, but these dust storms ARE being generated by the Illuminati. but being reduced in severity by the GFL, which in fact DO have not only 50 mile wide ships, but 100.. even 1000+ mile diameter ships.

      So its kinda all connected.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      Did you watch the best-TV-show-ever-that-just-ogt-cancelled, "The Event"? The portal has been activated. They are coming. Forget Mt. Inostranka.........They're heeeeerrrreee !!!!

      August 19, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Emily

    don't worry! It's just a myth, an urban legend, like global warming!

    August 19, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joey Issota-Fraschini

    Dust is all around us. The dust in Phoenix must a sight to see. While others see dust,I see the beauty of nature.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      I agree! It is incredible watching them roll in. They are hardly destructive, and it shows the massive power of wind and rain, to kick up that amount of dust. Plus we get the best sunsets afterwards.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ardis

      shannon, how long does it take for one to go through?

      August 19, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. what

    Why is an Arabic term used in this article? This is America, it is called a fing dust cloud.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Wolf Rayet

      Are you still asking for freedom fries?

      August 19, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Iftar of Mohammed

      Do you know what the prophet Muhammed would have to say to your blasphemy American Pig???

      August 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      What do you call a burrito? How about chow mein? Pizza? Linguini? What about those really big waves – oh yeah, tsunami.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      I don't suppose you use numbers either. They are Arabic. Relax, America didn't invent absolutely everything.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      @Richard – Ok I'll just call you DIck. Speak English. Numbers are named in English. The Arabs only learned to count so they could keep track of their 72 virgins.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      – I think the fact that so many of our military have seen these while deployed has given the term haboob its main stream OK.

      My son sent me a pix of the first one he seen in 05 while in Iraq. Living in FL he had no idea what it was. He asked a local and the local says haboob – my son emails me later and says it was a haboob... he had a word for the strange dust storm he had just hunkered down through.

      These are not the typical run of the mill dust storms either by the way, I think the term haboob sets it apart from the norm and adds scope to the event. I've been through several "dust storms" in my day, but never anything like this.

      BTW – the English language is full of "barrowed" words from other cultures. This isn't the first, get over it!

      August 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wolf Rayet

      @f- "Numbers are named" LOL!

      August 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. George

    Kind of beautiful isn't it.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. Apul M'Deek Aoud

    Immotep make big dust devils...

    August 19, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. 50 and still WFO

    Yea and while you see "beautiful nature" I see two weeks worth of house cleaning!!! These big storms are a hassle! I live in the middle of this crud and it's no fun cleaning dust out of everything for two weeks after one of these blows through.

    Oh well, ggod thing Global Warming is just a theory or this might be something to be concerned about over time .... (wink wink nod nod and all of that).

    August 19, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • cameron

      you know cause 100 years ago there were no such thing as dust storms.. global warming is a myth weather patterns are always changing... wake up already.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Confused

    I think that the hand of God is reaching down from the heavens for Sarah Palin who now lives in Scottsdale AZ.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Issota-Franschini

    What are the people of Phoenix hiding in that dust cloud?

    August 19, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tom


    August 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. Running Cloud

    Me indian. Me happy. Just won $220,000 at casino in New Mexico.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    aliens.... it's aliens..

    August 19, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. popejon

    Dust bowl 2012 here we come.... That's what happens when you have a monolithic crop (corn, soy) and you eventually deplete the soil without a more diverse crop rotation.... different crops bring different nutrients back into the soil. We've only had this monolithic crop system since about the mid 70's (remember when things had real sugar and not sugar processed from corn?). So its just a matter of time.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • f

      The 'Dust Bowl" ?? Is that right after the Super Bowl ?? OOOH, can I get tickets ???

      August 19, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • popejon

      Hey jacka$$ read a little bit of American history and get back to me on your asinine comment...

      August 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DaveR

    Does the cloud itself generate enough electrical activity to cause lightning, similar to that generated by volcano eruptions? Seems to me a normal thunderstorm w/ rain would remove a lot of the dust from the air.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      we don't get too much rain though... only a small part of the city got any rain last night, i know where i'm at in central phoenix we didn't get any just dirt 🙁

      going from my car to the house in this i was crunching dirt between my teeth...

      August 19, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      I don't think the dust cloud itself causes lightning, but it is formed by a thunderstorm close behind it that is kicking up the dust. There is usually thunder and lightning FOLLOWING a dust storm due to that thunderstorm. Here in North Phoenix we got quite a bit of rain, but as per Phoenix weather, it only lasted about 20 minutes.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
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