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article imageDust storm envelops Phoenix for third time this season (video)

By Kim I. Hartman     Aug 19, 2011 in Environment
Phoenix - For third time this season a massive cloud of dust has rolled across the desert outside of Phoenix, downing power lines, causing accidents, delaying flights, and covering everything with a layer of dust.
Yesterday's fast moving dust storm was a combination of three separate dust clouds that hit Maricopa and Pinal counties, according to AZ Central.
The storm system moved across the desert at 10 to 20 mph and reached a height of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, reports the National Weather Service. The NWS reported visibility was reduced to under 60 feet in some areas when the storm was at its worst. The storm brought rain and high winds, gusting up to 50 mph.
This is the third severe dust storm that has hit Arizona this season and pales in comparison to the one that hit Phoenix July 5 (shown below). In that dust storm a massive wall of dust, reported to be at least 50 miles wide hit the state, closing the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for over an hour. On July 18 a second storm hit the Arizona valley.
Phoenix meteorologist Marie Molina said "dust storms of this type are not uncommon in the region. Anywhere there is desert this can happen."
"The dust storms are called a 'haboob,' which is Arabic for wind. They occur during the monsoon season which is beginning in the southwestern portion of the United States. They are created by the collapse of a thunderstorm. The heavy rain forces air downward to the ground and raises the dust into the air and it's lifted even higher by the approaching storm," said Molina.
Yesterday's storm is being blamed for a eight-car pile up on Interstate 8 that critically injured two people. Power outages were experienced by over 2000 homes, reports AZ Central.
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