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MOTHER OF ALL DUST STORMS SWALLOW PHOENIX, US.A


PHOENIX, Arizona, u.s.a - Arizonans are calling it the mother of all dust storms. The mile-high wall of ominous, billowing dust that appeared to swallow Phoenix and its suburbs is all the locals can talk about.
It moved through the state at sundown on Tuesday, halting flights, knocking out power to 10,000 people, turning swimming pools into mud pits and caking cars with dirt. The sky was still filled with brown on Wednesday as residents washed cars and swept pavements.
  • Because dust storms, also known by the Arabic term "haboobs", are so hard to predict, Tuesday's took everyone by surprise. Seemingly out of nowhere, the 160km-wide storm moved like a giant wave, the dust roiling as it approached at up to 100kph.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • Arizonans were 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 metre. Tuesday's 24-hour average was as high as 375 micrograms per cubic metre, 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.
Planes were grounded because of low visibility, while car washes and pool cleaners were overrun. Meanwhile, hospitals were preparing for an increase in a disease known as Valley Fever, a fungal pneumonia, because of the storm. The fungus thrives in the hot and arid South-west and is found just a few feet beneath the earth's surface" it can be stirred up by construction, wind and other activity.
Source: Agency
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