Two dust storms converged over the greater Phoenix area on Sunday, hours after the city broke another record as a heat wave grips the West.
Yes! It’s not everyday we can watch two dusty outflows collide south of downtown Phoenix.
The National Weather Service (NWS) Phoenix office said that the city beat the previous record-high temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, topping out at 115 degrees.
But hours later, thunderstorms developed that triggered dust storms across parts of the area.
Haboob pic.twitter.com/XZrLaD8B7N— Vin Boz (@vinboz) August 17, 2020
The action began approaching the Valley around 5:30 p.m., whenthe area along Interstate 10 south of Phoenix was slammed with blowing dust.
“Winds are creating areas of blowing dust elsewhere in the Phoenix area,” forecasters said.
Just before 6 p.m., the NWS issued a dust advisory for “a wall of dust” moving south across parts of the area at 40 mph, before issuing a dust storm warning for Maricopa and Pinal Counties.
The forecast office said that visibility fell to zero miles at Sky Harbor International Airport.
Current view from our office with less than 1/4 mi visibility. Sky Harbor briefly fell to 0 miles. Please remain careful and vigilant on the roads the next couple of hours! #azwx pic.twitter.com/DVsoiMYsyR— NWS Phoenix (@NWSPhoenix) August 17, 2020
Drivers throughout the area were forced to pull over to stay safe from roads with low visibility. A semi-truck on Interstate 10 near Picacho Peak was blown over by its side during the storm, resulting in the roadway being closed for a short period.
I-10 reopened near Picacho Peak around 7 p.m., but rain and dust continued to affect drivers on the freeway west of Phoenix.
Dust advisories for several counties remained in effect on Sunday night, according to the NWS.
The NWS said that dust storms and haboobs can occur anywhere in the U.S. but are most common in the Southwest. They are a result of thunderstorm winds.
In the Southwest, these types of storms are “relatively common” during the North American Monsoon Season, which is an increased period of thunderstorms and rainfall from July through September.
This is the view on I-10 WB right now near Picacho Peak. #PullAsideStayAlive when a dust storm comes into an area. Get tips here: https://t.co/X2sLfWwAV5#azwx #aztraffic #I10 pic.twitter.com/TBJfm0oXFK— Arizona DOT (@ArizonaDOT) August 17, 2020
Dust storms present the biggest threat to motorists, as the advancing wall of dust and debris may be miles long and several thousand feet high.
Since dust storms strike with little warning, they can make driving conditions especially hazardous.
“Blinding, choking dust can quickly reduce visibility, causing accidents that may involve chain collisions, creating massive pileups,” according to the NWS. “Dust storms usually last only a few minutes, but the actions a motorist takes during the storm may be the most important of his or her life.“
A few views from last nights #haboob in #Phoenix. Haboobs are giant walls of #dust created from #highwinds rushing out of a collapsing #thunderstorm. Cold air rushes down at a high rate, picking up massive amounts of dust. Photos courtesy Bryan Neumeister #weatherfront pic.twitter.com/F6nwvPoRpt— City of Phoenix, AZ (@CityofPhoenixAZ) August 17, 2020
The record heat across the West over the weekend, including in Death Valley, which recorded 130 degrees on Sunday, is expected to carry into this week with little to no relief in sight.
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