Massive Haboob Sweeps Through Phoenix Tuesday


An unseasonably early dust storm packing high winds rolled up into the Valley Tuesday afternoon, prompting a warning until 5 p.m. for portions of the Greater Phoenix area.

The warning included Maricopa, Queen Creek and Chandler.

Residents and motorists were advised to brace for southerly winds blowing between 25 and 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph, CBS 5 Chief Meteorologist Chris Dunn said.

Dunn said he isn't expecting any rain in the Valley, just gusty winds.

Visibilities could drop to as low as 1 mile, especially over the southeast Valley, he said.

Dunn called it a rarity for March, a convective-induced dust storm.

"What that means is a high-based rain shower that produces a strong downdraft of wind that kicks up lots of dust on the desert floor," Dunn said.

"We typically see this during the monsoon when convective-type showers are fairly common. But it's not the normal blowing dust we see in March, and what we'll likely encounter during the afternoon on Wednesday," he said.

Officials at Sky Harbor International Airport said the storm was not impacting operations or flights.

Earlier, clouds of dust affected the Interstate 10 corridor between Casa Grande and Phoenix and Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend.

Blowing dust cut visibility to near zero in many locations.

Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Carrick Cook said there were at least five motor vehicle crashes along I-10 north of Picacho Peak. He said no one in any of those accidents was injured.

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Anticipated strong winds have prompted a high-pollution advisory for the Phoenix area Wednesday.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality said the winds approaching from the west are expected to generate a considerable amount of dust in the metro area, creating an unhealthy level of particulates.

CBS 5 Meteorologist Katie Baker said the Valley will see wind gusts between 25 and 30 mph throughout Wednesday.

"We are asking everyone who generates dust to take extra precautions to minimize emissions throughout the event," said ADEQ Air Quality Division Director Eric Massey.

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