熱 天 氣 Warm Weather

Dust storm hits Phoenix, limiting visibility

Phoenix dust storm
  Source

Dust storm hits Phoenix, limiting visibility

by Matt Haldane - Jul. 5, 2011 09:30 PM

The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team

A large dust storm rolling through the Phoenix area obscured visibility and created dangerous driving conditions Tuesday evening.

The storm traveled across much of the Valley at 30 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. It originated near Tucson and reached metro Phoenix about 7:30 p.m.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport had to shut down about an hour, causing some flight delays.

The storm also caused power outages in some areas. In Tempe, officers were directing traffic at intersections in blackout areas, according to police Lt. Scott Smith.

The storm brought down some in live wires in Tempe, and one started a fire near Rural and Southern, Smith said. The blaze was quickly extinguished.

In Chandler, winds toppled nine trees at the intersection of Chandler and Arizona avenues. Police officers used chainsaws and a tow truck to clear the debris.

Reporter Laurie Merrill contributed to this article.


Source

Massive dust storm descends on Valley

Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 8:28 pm

A massive dust storm descended on the area on Tuesday night, drastically reducing visibility and delaying flights as strong winds toppled trees and caused power outages for thousands of residents in the Valley.

The towering dust cloud that hit the area had originated in an afternoon storm in the Tucson area before moving north across the desert, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Iniguez. Before bearing down on the Valley, radar data showed the storm's wall of dust had reached as high as 8,000 to 10,000 feet, he said.

Once it neared the Valley, the cloud had fallen to some 5,000 feet, according to the weather service. KSAZ-TV in Phoenix reported the storm appeared to be roughly 50 miles wide in some spots, and it briefly blanketed the city's downtown at around nightfall.

"This was pretty significant," Iniguez said. "We heard from a lot of people who lived here for a number of storms and this was the worst they'd seen."

The storm was part of the Arizona monsoon, which starts in mid-June and lasts through Sept. 30.

The National Weather Service says strong winds with gusts of more than 60 mph rapidly moved the dust cloud northwest through Phoenix and the surrounding cities of Avondale, Tempe and Scottsdale. More than a dozen communities in the area also were placed under a severe thunderstorm watch until 11 p.m.

Some 8,000 Salt River Project utility customers were left without power, KNXV-TV reported late Tuesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on its website that because of low visibility in the area, no Phoenix-bound flights were allowed to leave Las Vegas or Los Angeles airports until 9 p.m., and flights at the airport were grounded for about an hour.

 
Phoenix dust storm

 

Source

More Phoenix storms forecast after huge evening dust storm

by Brittany Smith, Connor Radnovich and Matt Haldane - Jul. 6, 2011 10:16 AM

The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team

More storms are forecast for Wednesday evening, following a massive dust storm that swept across the Phoenix area Tuesday night, leaving a path of dust, debris and damage in nearly every part of the Valley.

Wednesday evening's forecast includes a 20 percent chance for thunderstorms in the Valley and between a 20 percent and 25 percent chance for dust storms beginning between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

"No night is ever going to be exactly the same," National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Ellis said. "The odds of getting another (big dust storm) are not that great, but on the other hand, the conditions have not changed that much, so it's possible.

"It's possible we could get another dust storm tonight. As to how bad it could be, that's difficult to say."

The wall of dust rolled into the Valley starting just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Ellis said. The mile-high dust storm moved between speeds of 50 and 60 mph and appeared to be nearly 100 miles wide, according to the Weather Service's radar.

Winds in the Valley reached 50 mph with gusts approaching 60 mph, Ellis said. Visibility fluctuated between zero to a quarter of a mile during the storm's peak density.

"I've been (in Arizona) for nearly 33 years, and I've never seen as thick a coating of dust, on streets and cars, as this one," Ellis said. "I've never seen anything like it before."

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was forced to shut down for nearly an hour, spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said. All planes were grounded between 8 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., and some flights were diverted to Tucson and California for landing. At least two flights were canceled.

The storm was so powerful, it blew a heavy cloud of dust into the terminals, triggering fire alarms.

Phoenix Fire Department received more than 700 calls for service as the storm rolled through the city.

"We expect that," said Capt. Scott Walker, a spokesman for the Fire Department. "When storms come to the area ... we have procedures in place."

The storm also caused power failures in some areas. In Tempe, officers were directing traffic at intersections in blackout areas, police Lt. Scott Smith said. Significant outages were also reported in Apache Junction.

Salt River Project reported 9,400 customers across the Valley lost power during the peak of the storm.

Arizona Public Service reported that the entire town of Quartzsite lost power, affecting 2,000 people, and blackouts affected 6,000 customers in Buckeye.

Significant outages were also reported in Apache Junction, central and south Phoenix, and south Scottsdale. APS reported Wednesday morning that 600 customers in the far west Valley were still without power, but outages should be fixed by the end of the day.

A semitruck was blown over along Interstate 8 near milepost 169, six miles southwest of Casa Grande, Ellis said. Twenty power poles went down, and a tree fell on a police station near Sacaton in Pinal County.

The storm brought down live wires in Tempe, and one started a fire near Rural Road and Southern Avenue, Smith said. The blaze was quickly extinguished.

In Chandler, winds toppled nine trees at the intersection of Chandler and Arizona avenues. Police officers used chainsaws and a tow truck to clear the debris.

Although the cause of the storm's speed was yet to be determined, Weather Service officials said the storm's unusual density was caused by little rainfall in affected areas during the past several months.

A typical dust storm in Arizona might reach 1,000 feet and travel between 30 and 40 mph, Ellis said.

More dust storms are forecast for Wednesday afternoon, with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening.

"No night is ever going to be exactly the same," Ellis said. "The odds of getting another (big dust storm) are not that great, but on the other hand, the conditions have not changed that much, so it's possible. It's possible we could get another dust storm tonight. As to how bad it could be, that's difficult to say."


Source

Cleanup under way after massive Valley dust storm

Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 8:28 pm | Updated: 10:12 am, Wed Jul 6, 2011.

Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) The air around the Valley was a hazy shade of brown and a layer of dirt coated cars and buildings Wednesday following a massive dust storm the night before.

The huge dust wall that crossed the metro Phoenix area Tuesday night drastically reduced visibility, halting all flights coming in and out of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport until conditions improved.

Winds ripped up trees, tossed around lawn furniture and caused hazardous driving conditions.

The storm knocked out power to about 9,400 Salt River Project electric customers, a local newspaper reported.

Wednesday morning, the white roof over Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the venue for next week's Major League Baseball All Star Game, was coated with thick, brown dust.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix said there is a slight chance of thunderstorms Wednesday evening including blowing dust.

Tuesday's storm was part of Arizona's monsoon, which starts in mid-June and lasts through September.

The dust cloud that moved across the Valley had formed in an afternoon storm in the Tucson area, and then rolled north across the desert before sweeping over the city like an enormous wave, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Iniguez.

Radar data showed the storm's towering dust wall had reached as high as 8,000 to 10,000 feet, or nearly 2 miles, he said.

"This was pretty significant," Iniguez told The Associated Press. "We heard from a lot of people who lived here for a number of storms and this was the worst they'd seen."

By the time the dust cloud neared the metropolitan area, it had started to dissolve but it still towered over the city with a wall of at least 5,000 feet, according to the weather service.

KSAZ-TV in Phoenix reported the storm appeared to be roughly 50 miles wide in some spots, and it briefly blanketed the city's downtown at around nightfall.


Source

Arizona dust storm leaves big mess, health fears in its wake

Car washes and pool firms cash in; health fears lingering

by Jim Walsh and Elvina Nawaguna-Clemente - Jul. 7, 2011 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

An enormous wall of dust that barreled across the Valley during a monsoon storm left so much dirt behind on the ground and in the air that it didn't just coat cars and clog up pools, it prevented pilots approaching Sky Harbor International Airport from seeing the runways a day later.

The windstorm that took Valley residents by surprise Tuesday around sunset was a rare monster that reached theatrical proportions. It spawned a 100- to 150-mile-wide plume of dust more than 5,000 feet high, moving at 50 mph to 60 mph from northwest Tucson along Interstate 10 through the Valley before petering out in Yavapai County, according to Elizabeth Padian, a National Weather Service spokeswoman.

"The magnitude of it, how high it was, how wide it was, how dense it was, this is remarkable," she said.

The storm was all anyone could talk about Wednesday after it cut power to 10,000 Valley customers, grounded flights and left people cleaning up cars and pools caked with dirt and mud.

Ken Waters, a warning-coordination meteorologist with the Weather Service, said the storm hung together like a weather front of its own. "This is like special effects from a Hollywood movie," he said. "It's kind of once in a lifetime."

The aftereffects forced the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce aircraft arrivals at Sky Harbor on Wednesday from about 78 per hour to 48 an hour because of poor visibility caused by a layer of dust still hanging around at 4,000 to 6,000 feet.

Pilots compensated by using instrument-arrival equipment, similar to that used to land during a thunderstorm, said Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokesman in Fort Worth, Texas. Although conditions were improving late Wednesday afternoon, planes were still "descending through the dust," he said.

Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University professor of geographical sciences who has studied Arizona's weather for decades, said the Valley used to have more frequent dust storms like Tuesday's before development paved over the desert. But this one was impressive, he said.

"It's the biggest I've seen in 10 or 15 years," he said.

Cerveny and the Weather Service said the winds were created by a powerful downdraft as thunderstorms near Marana and Oro Valley fell apart. Rain forced the winds to ground level, and they quickly swept up dust because of the extremely dry conditions. The amount of dust grew larger as the storm blew northwest toward the Valley.

"It's kind of like a bomb blast," Cerveny said, adding that most of the winds headed northwest toward Phoenix while a spur went west through Tacna, eventually passing through Yuma and crossing the Colorado River.

Cervany theorized that unkempt yards in houses abandoned during the economic downtown created more dust that fed the storm.

Mark Shaffer, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the testing station on 15th Avenue, between Thomas and Indian School roads in Phoenix, recorded an astronomical reading of 6,349 micrograms per cubic meter at 10 p.m. Tuesday. The federal EPA standard is 150.

Because of the dust that lingered through Wednesday, those with respiratory issues were warned to stay inside.

"It's a little bit frantic today," Dr. Laura Ispas-Ponas said. "Patients are calling complaining of symptoms that seem to be, but aren't necessarily, allergy-related."

The specialist at Sonoran Allergy and Asthma Center in Scottsdale said dust particles act as irritants, mimicking allergy symptoms such as nasal drainage, dry cough and itchy, watery eyes.

Dust also can cause serious reactions in people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory conditions, Ispas-Ponas said.

Residents caught in the dust storm could end up with valley fever, a usually harmless lung infection that occasionally spreads to the spinal fluid, bones and other parts of the body, with potentially devastating effects, said Dr. Rick Helmers, a pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Valley fever is caused by inhaling spores of the fungus coccidioides, which grows in the soil in the Southwest. The spores become airborne when stirred by wind, construction or farming and can cause fatigue, fever, coughs and muscle and joint aches.

Across the Valley, many people were busy cleaning up cars, pools and yards Wednesday.

Scottsdale's Eldorado Aquatic and Fitness Center was expected to reopen today after workers spent most of the day cleaning up a "huge mud hole" in the swimming pool, employee Joyce Shorr said.

Car-washing and pool-cleaning services were inundated.

Quick N Clean car wash saw about a 50 percent increase in customers, with anywhere from six to 15 cars lined up at several Valley locations before opening time, company President Richard Karle said.

"Our car-wash business was good today," he said. "It will be a nice little run for the next week or so. There are a lot of dirty cars out there."

For pool-cleaning businesses, the storm brought a mix of good and bad.

"The new-service requests are coming in hot and heavy," said Chip Bury, owner of Splish Splash Pool Service in Phoenix. But on the down side, companies face a lot more work cleaning up existing customers' pools.

"You have to take the good with the bad," Bury said. "We don't pray for storms. It's such a tremendous burden."

For auto dealers with cars out on open lots, the "haboob" was a big inconvenience. Dealerships opened with cars covered in dirt and debris.

Mark Gruwell, co-owner of Courtesy Chevrolet knew he was in for a long day as he watched the storm move in Tuesday night.

"I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is just going to make a big mess for the next day.' I knew it was going to be a lot of work," Gruwell said.

The company hired two extra workers to help clean up for the next two days. "I've lived here my whole life, and I have never seen anything like that," he said. "It was just unbelievable."

Republic reporter Connie Midey contributed to this article.

Dust storm driving tips

National Weather Service recommends these tips for motorists:

  • Pull vehicle off to the side of the road as far as safely possible
  • Put vehicle in park and turn all lights off (you don't want other drivers to follow you, thinking you are still moving)
  • Set emergency brake and take foot off brake pedal to be sure tail lights are not illuminated
  • Don't enter storm if you can avoid it

If vehicle cannot be safely pulled to the side of the road:

  • Turn on vehicle lights
  • Proceed at a speed suitable for visibility
  • Occasionally sound vehicle horn
  • Use painted center road line to help guide you
  • Look for a safe place to pull off the road
  • Never stop on the traveled section of the roadway
  • Don't enter storm if you can avoid it


Source

Ariz. washes away dust deposited by massive storm

Associated Press | Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 6:24 pm | (0) Comments

Arizonans are calling it the mother of all haboobs _ a mile-high wall of ominous, billowing dust that appeared to swallow Phoenix and its suburbs.

The massive dust storm, also called a "haboob" in Arabic and around Arizona, is all locals could talk about Wednesday. It moved through the state around sundown Tuesday, halting airline flights, knocking out power to nearly 10,000 people, turning swimming pools into mud pits and caking cars with dirt.

The sky was still filled with a hazy shade of brown a day later as residents washed their cars and swept sidewalks.

Because haboobs are so hard to predict, Tuesday's took everyone by surprise.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the 100-mile-wide storm moved like a giant wave, the dust roiling as it approached at up to 60 mph. Once it hit, visibility dropped to zero in some areas, the sky turned nearly black, trees blew sideways, and even downtown Phoenix skyscrapers became invisible.

"Just the height of it looked like a special-effect scene from a movie, like a dust storm out in Africa," said Charlotte Dewey, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Phoenix. "It looked so huge, looking at the city down below, it was just specks of light and miniature buildings.

"I have a feeling that people will be talking about this for another week or two, at least," Dewey said.

She said meteorologists were still trying to get exact measures from satellite and radar to figure out how big the dust storm was and compare it with previous ones, but they estimate it was more than a mile high and more than 100 miles wide.

"People who've lived here their whole lives, 30 or 40 years, are saying they've never seen a storm this large," Dewey said.

She said winds from separate thunderstorms in the eastern and southern parts of the state collided somewhere between Phoenix and Tucson and combined with a severe lack of moisture to create the wall of dust. The storm also hit the Yuma area in southwestern Arizona, and far western Arizona.

Haboobs only happen in Arizona, the Sahara desert and parts of the Middle East because of dry conditions and large amounts of sand, Dewey said.

"It's a pretty rare thing to be able to see," she said.

While some Arizonans revel in the strange weather, many were unlucky enough to be outside when the storm rolled in. They got blasted with dust that went up their noses, behind their contact lenses and in their mouths, leaving behind a gritty taste.

Holly Ward, a spokeswoman at the Maricopa County Air Quality Department, said pollution levels skyrocketed. Particulate matter at one monitoring site hit an hourly average of more than 5,000 micrograms per cubic meter. Tuesday's 24-hour average was as high as 375 micrograms per cubic meter, more than double the level federal standards consider healthy.

"You didn't have to go far anywhere in the dust storm to feel the remnants of that dust in your throat and in your nose," Ward said. "If someone already has breathing problems like asthma and bronchitis, this is an incredible health challenge and serious health threat for those folks."

Local hospitals were expecting an increase in a disease known as Valley Fever, a fungal pneumonia, because of the storm. The fungus thrives in the hot and arid Southwest and is found just a few feet beneath the earth's surface; it can be stirred up by construction, wind and other activity.

The dust storm also grounded flights at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport for 45 minutes. At least three flights were canceled and more than a dozen were delayed, while several incoming flights were diverted to Tucson and Ontario, Calif., said airport spokesman Julie Rodriguez.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said planes need to be grounded during dust storms because of the low visibility, high winds and potential damage from the dirt.

"If you think about it, glass is made from sand that has been melted, and if you think about the temperature inside a jet engine, it's hot enough to melt sand," he said. "If you can't see through it, you definitely don't want to fly through it."

He likened the storm to volcanic ash that wreaked havoc in the skies in April 2010, when an eruption grounded flights across Europe for days, disrupting travel for 10 million people.

Arizona's dust storm annoyed others who couldn't see out of their car windows or found their pools filthy in the morning. But that created pay dirt at local businesses.

"It's crazy here," said Margaret Viloria, manager of Los Olivos Hand Car Wash near downtown Phoenix. "When we opened this morning cars were lined up outside. It's just been nonstop."

On a typical day, the car wash cleans about 25 to 30 cars an hour. It was averaging 55 an hour Wednesday, Viloria said.

Joe Pinelli, owner of The Pool Service in Phoenix, was also having an "absolutely chaotic" day.

"I don't think I've been off the phone since about 6 a.m.," he said.

Dewey, the weather service meteorologist, said there was a slight chance of blowing dust in the Phoenix area Wednesday and Thursday and a slight chance of thunderstorms the rest of the week.

"As far as if it would be of any magnitude we saw Tuesday, I don't know," she said.

___

Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP


Source

Arizona dust storm leaves big mess, health fears in its wake

by Jim Walsh and Elvina Nawaguna-Clemente - Jul. 7, 2011 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

An enormous wall of dust that barreled across the Valley during a monsoon storm left so much dirt behind on the ground and in the air that it didn't just coat cars and clog up pools, it prevented pilots approaching Sky Harbor International Airport from seeing the runways a day later.

The windstorm that took Valley residents by surprise Tuesday around sunset was a rare monster that reached theatrical proportions. It spawned a 100- to 150-mile-wide plume of dust more than 5,000 feet high, moving at 50 mph to 60 mph from northwest Tucson along Interstate 10 through the Valley before petering out in Yavapai County, according to Elizabeth Padian, a National Weather Service spokeswoman.

"The magnitude of it, how high it was, how wide it was, how dense it was, this is remarkable," she said.

The storm was all anyone could talk about Wednesday after it cut power to 10,000 Valley customers, grounded flights and left people cleaning up cars and pools caked with dirt and mud.

Ken Waters, a warning-coordination meteorologist with the Weather Service, said the storm hung together like a weather front of its own. "This is like special effects from a Hollywood movie," he said. "It's kind of once in a lifetime."

The aftereffects forced the Federal Aviation Administration to reduce aircraft arrivals at Sky Harbor on Wednesday from about 78 per hour to 48 an hour because of poor visibility caused by a layer of dust still hanging around at 4,000 to 6,000 feet.

Pilots compensated by using instrument-arrival equipment, similar to that used to land during a thunderstorm, said Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokesman in Fort Worth, Texas. Although conditions were improving late Wednesday afternoon, planes were still "descending through the dust," he said.

Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University professor of geographical sciences who has studied Arizona's weather for decades, said the Valley used to have more frequent dust storms like Tuesday's before development paved over the desert. But this one was impressive, he said.

"It's the biggest I've seen in 10 or 15 years," he said.

Cerveny and the Weather Service said the winds were created by a powerful downdraft as thunderstorms near Marana and Oro Valley fell apart. Rain forced the winds to ground level, and they quickly swept up dust because of the extremely dry conditions. The amount of dust grew larger as the storm blew northwest toward the Valley.

"It's kind of like a bomb blast," Cerveny said, adding that most of the winds headed northwest toward Phoenix while a spur went west through Tacna, eventually passing through Yuma and crossing the Colorado River.

Cervany theorized that unkempt yards in houses abandoned during the economic downtown created more dust that fed the storm.

Mark Shaffer, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the testing station on 15th Avenue, between Thomas and Indian School roads in Phoenix, recorded an astronomical reading of 6,349 micrograms per cubic meter at 10 p.m. Tuesday. The federal EPA standard is 150.

Because of the dust that lingered through Wednesday, those with respiratory issues were warned to stay inside.

"It's a little bit frantic today," Dr. Laura Ispas-Ponas said. "Patients are calling complaining of symptoms that seem to be, but aren't necessarily, allergy-related."

The specialist at Sonoran Allergy and Asthma Center in Scottsdale said dust particles act as irritants, mimicking allergy symptoms such as nasal drainage, dry cough and itchy, watery eyes.

Dust also can cause serious reactions in people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory conditions, Ispas-Ponas said.

Residents caught in the dust storm could end up with valley fever, a usually harmless lung infection that occasionally spreads to the spinal fluid, bones and other parts of the body, with potentially devastating effects, said Dr. Rick Helmers, a pulmonologist at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Valley fever is caused by inhaling spores of the fungus coccidioides, which grows in the soil in the Southwest. The spores become airborne when stirred by wind, construction or farming and can cause fatigue, fever, coughs and muscle and joint aches.

Across the Valley, many people were busy cleaning up cars, pools and yards Wednesday.

Scottsdale's Eldorado Aquatic and Fitness Center was expected to reopen today after workers spent most of the day cleaning up a "huge mud hole" in the swimming pool, employee Joyce Shorr said.

Car-washing and pool-cleaning services were inundated.

Quick N Clean car wash saw about a 50 percent increase in customers, with anywhere from six to 15 cars lined up at several Valley locations before opening time, company President Richard Karle said.

"Our car-wash business was good today," he said. "It will be a nice little run for the next week or so. There are a lot of dirty cars out there."

For pool-cleaning businesses, the storm brought a mix of good and bad.

"The new-service requests are coming in hot and heavy," said Chip Bury, owner of Splish Splash Pool Service in Phoenix. But on the down side, companies face a lot more work cleaning up existing customers' pools.

"You have to take the good with the bad," Bury said. "We don't pray for storms. It's such a tremendous burden."

For auto dealers with cars out on open lots, the "haboob" was a big inconvenience. Dealerships opened with cars covered in dirt and debris.

Mark Gruwell, co-owner of Courtesy Chevrolet knew he was in for a long day as he watched the storm move in Tuesday night.

"I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is just going to make a big mess for the next day.' I knew it was going to be a lot of work," Gruwell said.

The company hired two extra workers to help clean up for the next two days. "I've lived here my whole life, and I have never seen anything like that," he said. "It was just unbelievable."

Republic reporter Connie Midey contributed to this article.


 
Phoenix, Arizona Dust Storm, July 2011

   

Home

Warm Weather