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. Global warming? SHUUSH

    You guys have no idea what your talking about. How would global warming cause a dust storm?

    The reason we are getting these worse than normal is simple, the economy. The land between Tucson and Phoenix where the thunderstorms farm is mostly desert, some farmland. The farms aren't farming because of the economy. This leaves vasts fields of emptiness and nothing to impede the travel of the dust.

    Monsoon season has caused dust storms in phoenix for as long as i can remember, and they are nothing new.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      If dust storms are nothing new, then why is the economy causing these latest ones. Curious.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • flower12

      Review the facts, buddy. These dust storms CAN be attributed to global warming. They are also going to continue to increase. YOU have no idea what you are talking about.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brownstain

      It's jeebus revenge on your inhumane immigration policy.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CSnord

      Only one little problem with your economic analysis. These storms are smaller and less frequent than in the past, like the 1970's, when the city was smaller. They used to be a lot more common when the desert was closer to town. This is not caused by global warming, and it is not worse than "normal" or in the past. So, other than getting everything dead wrong, nice post.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • CSnord

      @Brownstain - There's nothing wrong with the policy. It is the illegal immigrants that are the problem.

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

      Dumb-A$$e$. It's not "Global Warming". It's called "Climate Change". The average temparature of the planet has measurably and significantly increased. Coincidentally this increase began at the same time that humans began spewing CO2 and other pollutants into the atmosphere. The increase in the average temperature is also coinciding with measurable and significant changes in the weather worldwide aka climate. Some places get hotter, some even get cooler. Some places get more rain than normal (floods in Australia for example) and some get less rain than normal (Texas for example) Athough there is scant evidence that a very few glaciers may have increased in size, on average most have decreased drastically. And there is no mistaking that the Northern ice cap is shrinking alarmingly quickly. Just ask any polar bear in the area. Dust storms have happened in Phoenix, so it's true, they are not "new". But three in one summer of such huge size is NOT common and IS NEW. Yes, Climate Change is a "theory", just like it's a "theory" that water is comprised of H2O. Theories are based on observable scientific facts, experimentation and verification. Unlike the right-wing religious BUNK that is based on nothing but fear-based fantasy, magic, dogma and fanatic hype. Beware anyone that favors a belief that a 7,000 year old universe and humans living alongside dinosaurs are facts over a belief in the theories that tell us otherwise. Who would you trust to heal your brain if you had a tumor? A person who believes in Science and went to school to learn how the human body works or a person that believes we magically appeared here one day and that prayer is more effective than medicine? I would choose science every time. Anyone that wouldn't is an idiot.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      You're an idiot.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Not you Chach, the original poster. You are right on. I lived in Tucson for 18 years until recently, and we see what happens in Phoenix. Anyone who thinks that these are "normal" is out of their mind. I have never seen them mentioned on this scale even ONCE in those 18 years and had certainly never heard the term haboob.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sw!ft

      If you actually think global warming doesn't exist, you need to Google the matter. Even modern-day scientists are now admitting that it DOES exist & is in full effect. In fact, they're saying more than half of the earth's popluation will be wiped out by 2100 due to the water level rising significantly because of melting polar ice. And what's causing this ice to melt frequently & in such large amounts? Global warming.

      August 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MM

    People! It wasn't a disaster, it was a dust storm. Pretty common in the Valley of the Sun during monsoon season.
    I have lived here for over 30 yrs and wouldn't live anywhere else. Seems by the growth and population in this city and state I'm not the only one wanting to live here. I'll take an ocassional dust storm over a three month period over months of snow, cold, rain, humidity, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, etc. Life is a trade off and thank God everyone doens't like it here or have a desire to live here.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willowspring

      Thanks for clarifying the facts which have essentially negated the first several ridiculous comments.

      And to Brain-less at 1:13 pm 120 degrees with no humidity is a lot better than air saturation to the point of feeling like you are in a sauna in the east

      August 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shannon

      This is the same reply I've been giving to naysayers. We don't have to shovel sunshine in the winter!

      August 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. the prophet

    Apocalypse signs America will collapse, people credit cards will not work, and whatever cash they have will not last long, confusion panic anxiety famine diseases. The marshal law will take effect…. and it will be not match to orbital shift of the earth, the seas of our world will cover the entire continents as we know giving rise to a new lands and mountains once under the seas. To know more buy my book.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • BlameItOnIllegals

      ...keep your tin foil hats teabaggers'

      August 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. C

      Your'e a nut...................

      August 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justsayin

      That book of yours–would that be Mad Magazine? Just sayin'.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bachmanntwit

    That dust cloud is as wide as Michele Bachmann's mouth. Google ' bachmann corndog ' for a good laugh.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BlameItOnIllegals

    Three haboobs in one year isn't normal. Period. The astute AZ governor will blame this on illegals too. Might this be the wrath of God? How would Jesus treat "illegals"?

    August 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • CSnord

      We get several of these every year. Why is three not "normal". You clearly don't know what you are talking about. I've lived in Phoenix for 50 years. This is not only normal, it's typical. When the city was smaller, it used to happen MORE often.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."

      John 18:36 – He wouldn't treat them at all, other than to speak with them, and hope they believe in his power and the power of the Father. Otherwise, he wouldn't touch them, and he might not like them being arrested, but he wouldn't stand in the way.

      This goes along with the "Render Unto Caesar what is Caesar's..." Separation of the church's rule and the rule of man...

      August 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    We have it pretty easy here in Phoenix. Some summer heat and an occasional dust storm/haboob/monsoon storm to deal with. No earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, blizzards, major flooding, icy roads or shark attacks.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      But you have Sarah Palin now and she's worse than any of the above.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Talk it up all you like but Phoenix is a miserable he!! hole.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. NipponReptilian

    This Dust Clouds should be a new kind of weapon to fight against Russia and China. This is completely New World Order. Watch "Reptilian Hulk Hogan" to learn what is New World Order. Do not puke your lunch.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. OoohYea

    I think that the dust storm was a coverup for an alien invasion. Just a matter of time before they launch the attack. Be warned, they are here.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      ssssssshhhhhhhhh! no one is supposed to know....

      August 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fairy godmother

      Bristols having another baby?

      August 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jess

    HAAH! end of the world? Some people are outrageously brainless. If CNN covered dust storms during monsoon in my city, Chandler AZ, they would get board real fast. These are nearly as common as rain in Washington. Sure, most of them are not as big as this, but since I have been here, I have seen several just as large. Put just one of these storms on CNN and it’s the end of the world? Wow, people are funny.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • CSnord

      Yeah. Why this year? I mean it happens here (Phoenix area) every year. It think people get the idea that if you go out in one of these big one that it will tear the meat from your bones or that cars are flying across parking lots. It's just some wind and dust and is basically harmless.

      August 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Exactly! Everyone started calling them haboobs this year too and making a big deal on the term, but I've known that word for the dust storms here in Phoenix for decades, so it's nothing new either. This year was probably the first time we've ever gotten a lot of digital pictures and video of the storms too and the media love that.

      August 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Badonkadonk!


    August 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Pee-Pee! These words are so funny when you're three, aren't they. Nap time, now!

      August 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CSnord

    I've lived in Phoenix all my life and we get three to 10 dust storms like this every summer. It is a normal part of the weather pattern here. It is funny that the national media has suddenly picked up on it this year as though it is some kind of freak of nature. We call it the monsoon season and it runs from about July 1 into early September. Typically, about every five to 10 days, thunderstorms build up near the city during the day, then move in as evening sets in. The storm is preceded by relatively high winds, 20 – 40 MPH, followed by an optional rain storm. It's really annoying when the rain doesn't come. The rain can be very heavy, but usually only last 10 to 30 minutes. It's just normal Phoenix weather. I don't know why all the national interest in something that's been happening for all of the 50 years that I've lived here.

    August 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      I lived there for 18 years and monsoon season is one thing, but 60 mile wide dust storms are unusual. Obviously small dust storms are completely normal and a common occurrence all over the desert. I have just never heard of even ONE in Phoenix or Tucson that was on the scale of these things. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it is the end of the world by any means, but it is certainly not "normal".

      August 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • CSnord

      Sorry Jeff, but you are just plain wrong. I've watched these storms all my life and seen dozens that are bigger. You weren't here in the 60's and 70's like I was when these storms were even more common. Believe what you will, people always do, but you are wrong. This is not unusual in the least.

      August 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |


    August 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AzTransplant

    I've lied in Az for 41 years and the three dust stroms we've had this summer are nothing compared to the ones we had when I frist moved here. We had numerous ones every summer and most were bigger than these. There has been so much growth south of Phoenix that good portions of the deert are concert. We haven't had many dust stroms in the last few years so these three make the news.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. the prophet

    yeah that is also 50 years less left

    August 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. politico213

    Couldn't we, just for once, have a comment board that does not involve politics? Really? A dust storm and we have to blame Repulicans, Democrats, Bachmann, Palin. Even if some of your comments are in jest, it gets really old.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
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