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Major Dust Storm Moves Across Arizona

Posted by feww on July 6, 2011

Massive dust storm causes near zero visibility in large parts of Arizona

A 100-km wide and up to 3-km high dust storm moved over the Phoenix area Tuesday night, causing near-zero visibility, grounding flights, wreaking havoc on the roads and cutting power to thousands of homes and businesses.

“This was pretty significant,” said an NWS meteorologist. “We heard from a lot of people who lived here for a number of storms and this was the worst they’d seen.”

Wind gusts of up to 60MPH pushed the dust cloud, which originated in Tuscon area,  north across the desert and then northwest through Phoenix, Avondale, Tempe and Scottsdale, reports said.

A very large and historic dust storm moved through a large swatch of Arizona during the late afternoon and evening hours of July 5, 2011. Widespread reports of near zero visibility and winds gusting over 50 mph were received by the NWS Phoenix office. Image and Caption: NWS

North American Monsoon System (NAMS), aka, the Southwest Monsoon.

The dust storm is related to the North American Monsoon. “Monsoon storms can cause damaging winds, torrential rainfall, frequent lightning and dust storms,” NWS said.

The belated North American Monsoon typically starts in mid-June and lasts through late September. 


In terms of “weather”, the monsoon is associated with a dramatic in increase in summer precipitation, mostly in the form of thunderstorms.  The basic forcing of the monsoons is derived from a seasonal contrast in the heating of the land continent versus the ocean. Source o image and caption: NWS.

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