A cold front slicing through the Texas panhandle Monday carried a wall of dust that plastered the Texas South Plains during the afternoon and evening. The dust storm dropped visibility to near zero and was accompanied by wind gusts over 60 mph, resulting in power outages and tree and property damage.
Known as a haboob in meteorological lingo, the giant wall of dust, dirt, and debris extended 8,000 feet high. Haboobs are common in desert regions and often form when thunderstorm downdrafts crash onto the dry turf, kicking up the dust and other matter before getting carried forth by prevailing winds.
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In the case of yesterday’s haboob, a thunderstorm downdraft wasn’t needed for formation, but rather the cold front’s straight line winds packed enough punch to stir up the sand (from the exceptionally dry ground) and collasce it into a fiery sand tsunami.
Lubbock, Texas was especially hard hit. Here’s an account of what happened there from the Associated Press:
Lubbock city spokesman Jeff McKito said he was driving home from work when the dust hit. “It was pretty spectacular. Everything just turned black,” he said.
He said cars pulled over and stopped, “but you don’t want to get out of the car in this situation,” he said.
FAA controllers at Lubbock International Airport had to evacuate the tower and direct air traffic from a backup center on the tower’s ground floor, McKito said. Trees toppled, roofs lost shingles and a small cargo plane at the airport was overturned, he said.
No injuries were reported from the dust cloud reminiscent of those shown in Dust Bowl photos from the late 1930s.
The haboob encroaches upon a residential area in Lubbock...
The dust storm moving into Lubbock...