Weather Blog

Massive dust storm strikes Phoenix

Massive dust storm strikes Phoenix

I guess there is a price to pay for going over two months with hardly any rain in Phoenix.

The desert haven was slammed with a massive dust storm Tuesday evening, courtesy of a strong thunderstorm that brought heavy rain and strong winds.

The storm, also known as a "haboob" struck just before 8 p.m. MST. Winds at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport were reported as high as 53 mph with higher gusts reported in other areas.

"It's like a giant brown thunderstorm," Jerry Birddog, who was in the storm, wrote on our Facebook page. "Flashes of lightning through a brown misty haze+ sand hanging in the air.... Just opened the front door to look and my eyes were sandblasted."

Tyanna O'Parks Steele wrote that she was talking to five friends in the Phoenix area during the storm: "They are reporting blackout conditions and 100 mph gusts, they can hear the roofs lifting. And, the inside of the house is covered with dust, thanks to a doggie door. I have a feeling they'll find a way to secure that thing, soon!"

Michael Mashburn wrote: "I live in Chandler, AZ just southeast of Phoenix and this dust storm is crazy! We had sustained winds at 69 mph."

The dust storm is caused by strong winds that race out from a severe thunderstorm. When you get a very heavy rain, as desert thunderstorms get sometimes in the monsoon season, it causes a tremendous downdraft.

That wind hits the ground then races outward and speeds of 50-70 mph or higher. In the desert, those winds picks up sand and dust along the way and soon you've got a murky mix of heavy rain, dust, and sand getting blown across the arid landscape at near hurricane force strength. (How arid? Prior to Tuesday, Phoenix had received just 0.01" of rain in the past 76 days, and just 1.04" of rain since Jan. 1)

What's it like to be inside a haboob? Dark, wet, and gritty.

Check out this incredible time lapse as the storm approached Phoenix, courtesy of Scott Wood

And here are some other videos taken from inside the storm: