Arizona Dust Storm was "Exceptional" Because of Dry Weather in Southeast Portion of State

An ongoing drought in the southeastern part of Arizona, which has seen little rainfall in recent months, made last night's dust storm "exceptional," an official with the National Weather Service says.

"This came from a thunderstorm complex not far from Tucson," says Phoenix NWS meteorologist Ken Waters. "That area hasn't had a lot of rain for some months now."

As we mentioned in last night's post, the wall of dust that hit the Valley at roughly 7:30 p.m. was, well, extra-dusty. Internet users and news watchers around the world heard of the haboob as pictures and videos of the event went viral. If you're hungry for more dust-storm footage, check out our collection of pictures and videos.

"The magnitude was the main thing," Waters adds. "This really was extreme. The height was 5,000 to 8,000 feet above ground level, and ran from about 150 miles to 200 miles. It was a pretty amazing event."

The storm's wind gusted up to 60 miles per hour.

We were surprised to find out from Michael Murphy, spokesman for the Maricopa Medical Center, that asthma patients or other people with respiratory problems weren't flooding into the county hospital's ER. But that's not to say the hospital didn't have some dust-related problems.

"They were bringing in blowers and passing out masks in the pediatric ER," Murphy says. "There was dust everywhere."

Murphy also says some people may not experience a medical problem because of the dust until weeks from now -- there are bound to be Valley Fever spores kicked up by the storm.

A trending YouTube video gives another great impression of the scale of the thing.

Much of the dust didn't blow away, of course: It's caked onto vehicles and piled up on porches. We called a few pool-maintenance places, but none answered -- too busy, no doubt.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.

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